Why isn’t Chuck Todd anchoring ‘Meet the Press,’ how Sochi happened, and watching LGA crash
NBCâs âMeet The Pressâ is not simply mired in third place behind âFace the Nationâ (CBS) and âThis Weekâ (ABC). It has also become a boring hour weighed down with predictable guests answering bland questions from anchor David Gregory.
So can someone please do a story explaining why NBC chief White House reporter Chuck Todd hasnât replaced Gregory?
Todd — who is also the host of MSNBCâs âDaily Rundownâ — arguably should have been chosen in the first place as the successor to Tim Russert after Russertâs untimely death. In terms of political smarts, enthusiasm for political horse races, and instinct for asking the right follow-ups, Todd was Russertâs natural heir.
Now that itâs clear that Gregory has lost the Sunday morning dominance that Russert built up, why the NBC bosses have not given not Todd his chair is an absolute mystery.
2. How Sochi happened:
Given not only the obvious security problems but also the generally ridiculous proposition that Sochi was the most desirable place to hold this yearâs Winter Olympics, it would be great to read a retrospective on how that decision happened.
The process by which the International Olympic Committee chooses its venues has long been suspected of being infected by back room politics and even corruption. In 1998, members of the IOC were charged with taking bribes from Salt Lake City boosters who had persuaded them in 1995 to choose Salt Lake as the venue for the 2002 games. Although the local Salt Lake officials who got the IOC to choose their city were eventually acquitted on bribery charges, an independent IOC investigation resulted in ten Committee members being expelled. All kinds of details emerged during multiple investigations of millions spent on gifts and entertainment for members of the IOC and even jobs being provided to IOC family members.
One of the rationales that the Salt Lake boosters used was that their city had lost out to Nagano, Japan as the 1998 winter games venue, because Naganoâs boosters had so lavishly wined and dined IOC members.
All of which makes me want to see some stories, this week or next, about Olympics-salesmanship, Putin style.
3. Watching LGA crash:Â
This storyÂ Â in theÂ Wall Street JournalÂ earlier this month about the plans to replace the Central Terminal at LaGuardia — Americaâs worst major airport — begs for a reporter to make this his or her beat for as long as the project takes.
As Iâve written before, LaGuardia is run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an agency that even before the Chris Christie/George Washington Bridge shenanigans was renowned for its incompetence. According to theÂ Journalâs Ted Mann, the LaGuardia project would be daunting even if run by people who knew what they were doing and cared about the public treasury:
âIt will be, one individual familiar with the effort said, âthe most complicated construction project in the countryâ when primary work begins, sometime after a winning bidder is selected in April or May.
An airline industry official put it differently. For airlines that operate in the terminal during a construction project that could take seven years or longer — not to mention travelers who will see airport roads and parking disrupted — it will be âa nightmare,â this person said.â
Mann quoted Port Authority officials as saying the project would cost $3.6 billion. Iâll bet the final tab is more than double that, an overage that would be on the low side compared with some of the Authorityâs recent cost overruns. An even surer bet is that this project could be a great full-time beat for a reporter at one of New Yorkâs dailies. If I were running Capital New York, the upstart recently bought and re-launched by Politico, Iâd put someone on this right now, full time.
One immediate story for this LGA beat would focus on Governor Andrew Cuomoâs announcement in his State of the State message that he wanted to take over the development of both LaGuardia and JFK airports, whose deterioration he declared was âinexcusable.â
How does Cuomo plan to do that, given that the Port Authority owns and controls the two airports? Does he have some leverage over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie that we donât know about? Perhaps he thinks he can get Christie to yield because of the telephone conversation Cuomo and Christie reportedly had during the traffic jams at the GW Bridge, after a Cuomo Port Authority appointee interceded and forced an end to the âtraffic studyâ that had choked Ft. Lee. Cuomo has yet to comment on what Christie said to him about the origins of the âtraffic study.â Our LGA reporter should find out.
PHOTO:Â Russian police patrol near accommodation sites and venues in the Olympic Park in Adler near Sochi, December 31, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim ShemetovÂ