Kristen Welker Will Be the First Black Person to Host ‘Meet the Press’

By Rob Tornoe

NBC’s flagship politics show Meet the Press will soon have some Philly flavor.

Kristen Welker, NBC’s chief White House correspondent and a one-time NBC10 news anchor, will replace Chuck Todd as the famed Sunday roundtable’s moderator in September.

“I’ve watched too many friends and family let work consume them before it was too late,” Todd told viewers at the end of Sunday’s Meet the Press. “I promised my family I wouldn’t do that.”

It’s another step up the NBC News ladder for Welker, 46, who began covering the White House for NBC in 2011. She has reported on three administrators, cohosted NBC’s weekend edition of the Today show, and drew rave reviews for performance during a 2020 presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with her from essentially her first day and let me just say she’s the right person in the right moment,” Todd said of Welker. “This is exactly how I always hoped this would end, that I’d be passing the baton to her.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Kristen Welker, the new moderator of Meet the Press:

Kristen Welker is a ‘tough, scrappy Philadelphian’

A Philadelphia native who was raised in Fairmount, Welker knew in sixth grade she wanted to be a reporter, telling The Inquirer in 2016 she was “in awe of Barbara Walters interviewing Patrick Swayze and dancing with him.”

Welker said she knew she wanted to becoming a political reporter in 1995 when her mother, Julie, ran unsuccessfully for Philadelphia City Council.

“Some reporters asked her about being married to my father — they have an interracial relationship — as if that was somehow a negative thing,” Welker said. “I think my parents handled it with grace I would get very upset about this line of questioning. It made me realize how important it is that political reporters are being fair. Tough, but fair.”

Andrea Mitchell, the chief foreign affairs correspondent at NBC News and MSNBC anchor, quickly became friends with Welker during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“She’s got all the virtues of a tough, scrappy Philadelphian,” Mitchell, a Penn grad, told The Inquirer in 2020. “She’s very down to Earth, very connected to home and family, and I think she combines all of the great talents you’d want in a superb journalist.”

Welker spent five years at NBC10

Moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News takes notes during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Welker graduated from Germantown Friends School and Harvard University, and spent several years working for ABC affiliates before landing with NBC in 2005 as a reporter for NBC10. She also served as a weekend anchor.

She remained in Philadelphia for five years before a temporary reporting assignment at NBC’s Los Angeles bureau. That turned into a role as a network correspondent for NBC News based in Burbank, Calif., and from there she’s never looked back.

NBC10 has been a jumping-off platform for a number of national media figures. Former CNN anchor Don Lemon was once a reporter for the station, and it was the launching pad for CBS News executive editor and former NBC News president Steve Capus. Former NBC Nightly News anchor and MSNBC host Brian Williams once covered South Jersey for WCAU when it was still owned by CBS.

“It’s hard not to feel inspired and excited that I’m following in their footsteps, to some extent,” Welker told Philly Mag in 2010. “It doesn’t suggest that I’ll rise to the level of Brian Williams.”The Interview: NBC’s Kristen Welker

Who else has hosted ‘Meet the Press’?

Welker will become the 16th moderator on Meet the Press, the longest-running television show in history, airing consecutively for more than 76 years.

Welker will become the show’s first Black moderator and just its second female anchor. When Meet the Press launched in 1947, it was hosted by broadcasting pioneer and cofounder Martha Rountree, who remained in the role until 1953.

Probably the most well-known Meet the Press moderator is the late Tim Russert, who anchored the show for more than 16 years until his death in 2008. The Buffalo native and Bills fans placed an emphasis on probing interviews with high-profile Washington guests, and Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008.

Here are the previous moderators on Meet the Press:

  • Martha Rountree:1947 to 1953
  • Ned Brooks:1953 to 1965
  • Lawrence Spivak: 1966 to 1975
  • Bill Monroe:1975 to 1984
  • Roger Mudd and Marvin Kalb: 1984 to 1985
  • Marvin Kalb:1985 to 1987
  • Chris Wallace:1987 to 1988
  • Garrick Utley: 1989 to 1991
  • Tim Russert:1991 to 2008
  • Tom Brokaw: 2008
  • David Gregory: 2008 to 2014
  • Chuck Todd: 2014 to 2023

Is Chuck Todd leaving NBC?

After he hands over the baton, Todd will transition into a role as chief political analyst leading into the 2024 presidential election.

As part of that role, Todd, 51, plans to focus on long-form journalism, according to a memo from NBC News president of editorial Rebecca Blumenstein and NBC News senior vice president of politics Carrie Budoff Brown. Todd will continue to host the Chuck Toddcast and Meet the Press Reports on NBC News Now, the online streaming network.

“During one of the longest runs as moderator in the show’s storied history, [Todd] transformed the brand into a vital modern-day franchise, expanding its footprint to an array of new mediums, and kept Meet the Press at the forefront of political discourse,” Blumenstein and Brown wrote. “Chuck has established himself as a trusted authority on all things politics — from consequential presidential and national elections to local and congressional races across the country.”

Todd as served as the political director of NBC News since joining the network in 2007. In addition to moderating Meet the Press, he launched MTP Daily, which aired on MSNBC until 2022.

“There should be a sell-by date on all journalists in Washington,” Todd told Poynter last year, “I’m a believer that you shouldn’t have one person in a beat forever.”

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