Students at the University of Mississippi, particularly in the School of Journalism and New Media, were given a gift on Monday, Nov. 6, when former moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd, spoke at the Overby Center on “Trust, News and American Politics.”
Currently NBC’s chief political analyst, Todd sat alongside SOJNM Dean Andrea Hickerson as she asked him about trust in the media, particularly in the political world. Hickerson was excited to have the opportunity to converse with Todd and moderate the discussion.
“It was absolutely exciting and a little nerve-wracking,” Hickerson said. “It was personally very exciting to meet Chuck. He’s been in the television business for a long, long time, and to be around someone who is intelligent and savvy and who has had a front-row seat to the story was truly a privilege.
Hickerson started the conversation by asking a question about how Todd became involved in the worlds of journalism and politics. In his response, he revealed that he did not always want to work in the journalism industry.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a journalist, I’ll be honest,” Todd said. “I have always been in politics. My father was a politics junkie, and this was his hobby.
Todd went on to share that because of his lifelong love of politics, he grew up aspiring to become a campaign manager. He then worked at a publication focused on American politics, and this is where his journey in the field of journalism began.
As the conversation progressed, Todd brought up the topic of distrust in the media and how he believes the United States has lost the trust of the average American viewer. He thinks the OJ Simpson televised trial is the place to start, because he thinks it was presented as entertainment instead of presenting any real news value. Todd subscribes to the idea that some people view television news as a joke because the trial was so entertainment-driven and exploited for so long.
“When you make these fundamental mistakes and then ask yourself, ‘Why do people think television (news) is just a TV show?’ “(It is) because we only made it a TV show during the Olympics,” Todd said.
Towards the end of the interview, the audience asked questions. One of the listeners asked how to protect their personal opinions, especially as a political analyst. Todd said that, in his opinion, unless a reporter’s segment is an opinion section, like colleague Rachel Maddow’s series on NBC, the audience should have no idea where they stand.
“People think they know my political views (but) I’ve never shared them. If I shared a point of view… someone would say, “Wow, do you think that?” “, said Todd. “People have tried to convince me to take a partisan stance, and I don’t want to do that.”
Journalism student Hannah Ivey said the event was an incredible opportunity and she was happy to be able to attend.
“It was super interesting,” Ivey said. “As a journalism student, it was a great opportunity to hear Chuck come and speak.”