I’ve been covering politics since 1992, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent since 2008, a fan of the Miami Hurricanes and the Green Bay Packers since birth and will be taking over moderator duties for Meet The Press this Sunday.

I will be multi-tasking during the President’s press conference and answering questions between Noon and 12:30pm ET, so ask me anything!

update: I enjoyed answering your questions today - I'm going to follow up on some of the top ones that didn't get answered in the coming days. Thanks.

Comments: 212 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

karmanaut27 karma

How do you think we could get politicians and other public figures to answer tough questions during an AMA session?

chucktoddnbc46 karma

Probably need to make them be transparent that they are doing it themselves... Because the idea of a staffer doing an AMA for a politician would probably be tempting to some of these pols. ... The best way to get politicians to treat an AMA seriously is for one of them to get elected believing that doing AMAs and other truly interactive and honest social mediums helped them get elected. Ultimately, most politicians are transactional about their own careers

YouArentReasonable18 karma

Followup: When you interview President Obama on Meet the Press what tough questions do you plan on asking him?

I agree that when President Obama did an AMA here it seemed he only answered preplanned softball questions.

chucktoddnbc31 karma

Well, one thing I don't want to do is show my hand regarding questions for the president. The topics are fairly obvious; ISIS, Ukraine/Putin, Ebola, immigration, upcoming election; Curious, actually, what questions you wanted answered or, better yet, what questions did Reddit folks think he ducked that he should NOT have

[deleted]25 karma


chucktoddnbc21 karma

Well, many of Colorado's DC politicians are quietly lobbying other colleagues from other states to embrace the issue, more so that Colorado doesn't look like an outlier or is somehow stereotyped. I think the next presidential election is likely to have both nominees end up supporting decriminalizing and it's going to take voters to decide whether they want those candidates to pledge to declassify marijuana from a schedule 1 controlled substance if they win. I don't think this administration is ready to do that (maybe I'm wrong) but if the candidates running in 2016 are asked to pledge on it, I wouldn't be surprised if most agree or come close to agreeing...

jlangdale25 karma

How much of interviewing today is total bullshit with prearranged questions, topics to avoid, vs honest no-holds barred unedited Q&A? How many hoops does one have to jump through to interview a President? If there are none, then what might explain the lack of direct questions & holding interviewees to answers? Is this a game of political correctness not to piss people off instead of challenging weak arguments or policies? At some point, with social media, won't this become increasingly hard to avoid?

chucktoddnbc34 karma

I've never conducted a pre-arranged interview. I've never accepted terms for an interview beyond location and amount of time. I think the biggest hurdle to getting more confrontational interviews is the fact that so many politicians can avoid outlets that my challenge them in favor of more friendly treatment. I hope to have MTP's reputation to continue to be a place where interviewees are treated fair but are forced to answer tough questions. I think the advantage the Sunday shows have is that we have time to allow an interviewee to answer tough questions in a long-form venue. It's a win for everyone, the public, the interviewer and the interviewee. Context and clarity are what the public wants more and more

RoswellSpaceman18 karma

Hey Chuck! Thanks for doing this AMA.

A lot of people have criticized NBC for making Luke Russert a contributor on Meet the Press. Some have even said that nepotism played into the decision. What do you have to say about Luke's credentials?

chucktoddnbc18 karma

I see first hand how hard Luke works on the toughest but most fruitful political beat in the country -- Capitol Hill. Judge him by his work not by what others claim to think or say.

fisheaus15 karma

Hey Chuck! Congrats on the new job! My question is do you think the President has emotionally checked out of the White House already? Any chance you will ask him about his seemingly lackluster attitude lately and press him on how his personal struggles may negatively shape our Country's future during such challenging times?

chucktoddnbc23 karma

Thanks for the kind words... I've heard this from a lot of Obama observers, not just from folks who don't know him, but from folks who think they DO know him. That said, sometimes when the news is as horrid as it is right now, with his polls in the tank... folks end up assuming that all of this is impacting him more than maybe it is. Perhaps if we were in his shoes, we'd feel depressed or lackluster so we assume he must too... I always am leery of trying too hard to put a politician on the couch. But you aren't alone in thinking this

Bigsaucypoopoo12 karma

Hi Chuck. What you think Obama's presidency be remembered for?

chucktoddnbc27 karma

He broke an important ceiling -- he'll always be America's first black president. That is not an insignificant legacy. That's a major barrier that was broken. Hard stop... As for the rest of his presidency... I've pondered this a lot (even am finishing up a book attempting to start this conversation). Legislatively, health care is also a major legacy; it's here to stay... now, is it a positive legacy or a negative one? We may not know for years. On foreign policy, this is where his legacy is the fuzziest. Is he a victim of circumstance? Did he make mistakes responding to the Arab Spring? I think that's going to be a long post-Obama presidency debate among many folks for years. Finally, his most important NEAR-term legacy is how his campaigns of 2008 and 2012 forever changed how campaigns are conducted, both financially and on the ground level front, re: targeting. I'm not sure the advent of multi-billion campaigns is healthy for the long term, but no doubt POTUS' campaigns completely transformed how all campaigns are now run, period

brayfiel12 karma

Congratulations on Meet The Press. For the sake of full disclosure I will admit that I am not a fan of yours. The reason for this stems from a statement you made back during the passage of Obamacare. You said something to the effect that it's not your job to "sell" Obamacare. A stance I absolutely agree with. However, I did not see you challenge some of the absurd claims about Obamacare. One of those being the death panels. You seemed to allow claims like this to be made and move on instead forcing those that made these claims to prove their veracity. So my question is are you going to challenge your guests whether it be Democrat, Independent or Republican or make the show a schmooze-fest? And yes, I know this may cost MTP some guests but it would do the public and TV journalism some good.

chucktoddnbc4 karma

Thanks for your honesty...I do believe that quote was taken out of context by some folks who simply wanted to believe the worst stereotype about the media. My job is to be grounded in facts... and do what it takes to make sure the guests I have on don't avoid answering tough questions; don't make absurd claims, but that we use Sunday morning for clarity... get to the nut of the policy conundrum

tkmountainman12 karma

Landlines being dropped and a disdain for pollsters makes me wonder about the credibility of polling. What do you think?

chucktoddnbc12 karma

I'm very concerned about the state of polling... Professional pollsters who get paid to get it right for campaigns or clients are still the best; and they release the fewest actual numbers to the public. The public polling, methodologically, is a mess. We have high standards for the polling we contract at NBC News and MSNBC. And I think it's why over the long term, we've been the most accurate and the least volatile. But I'm also getting us to experiment with online surveys, and other methods to see if we can build a better poll. Cell phones aren't the answer; Participation rates will drop among cell phone folks just as fast as they do for landline. Bottom line, I have less faith in state polls, generically, right now than at any point in my near 25 years covering politics. I think folks that rely on these polls to aggregate figures or do more complicated regression analysis are playing with fire because the original source data is so unreliable. This November could see a LOT of polling mistakes, more than 2012.

blucaller10 karma

Do you honestly feel, generally speaking, it is not a reporters/hosts job to correct partisan talking point falsehoods, and will you be dancing onstage with any notorious party strategists anytime soon?

chucktoddnbc15 karma

no... and I never did say that. A myth created by a few folks in the blogosphere who simply love to attack the media. That's fine, part of the gig; I get the frustration; I've yelled at the TV myself. FWIW, what I said was that the Obama admin can't rely on others to push back on an opponents falsehoods, they need to do it themselves. As for what my role is, totally be grounded in facts to push back on bloviation and talking points. And get to the nut of the debate

thombudsman9 karma

Why do they call the host of Meet the Press a "moderator"?

chucktoddnbc12 karma

there were others involved in the questioning back in the day (something I might experiment with again) and the anchor/host in those days was truly moderating the discussion; and adding a follow every now and then

MTPfanBoy9 karma

Chuck, who is the inspiration for your goatee? Is there anyone else currently in the facial hair game with a goatee you particularly admire?

chucktoddnbc9 karma

My dad had a full beard; I didn't like my full beard so I tried a goatee... liked it better and never really gave it up for the reasons I stated earlier regarding my late father.

moxiebaseball8 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. I'm a huge fan and respect your work.

As a relatively young American who is also a self-described political junkie, what do you see in the future of politics that can keep me from being cynical?

chucktoddnbc20 karma

Don't just allow Washington's gridlock to depress you. Check out the innovations taking place in the cities... that's where politics is exciting again

jbomble8 karma

How does having two first names impact your personality as a journalist?

chucktoddnbc13 karma

Well, I hate the fact that I have two ONE syllable names actually. So I've made sure both my kids have multiple syllable first names so they aren't burdened with everyone always deciding they have to say both names together in a fast way. I've been "ChuckTodd" with every coach or teacher during my childhood

Irene_Adler_7 karma

Do you ever get really nervous interviewing high profile people? When was your most nerve-wracking moment on the job?

chucktoddnbc7 karma

I'm always a tad nervous when the red light comes on. Any moment can be a career ender...

CdnMichael7 karma

First off, congrats on the new gig. Canadian here, but can't help but get a political fix from news coming out of the US, and a fan of MTP.

2 Q's, if I can be a bit greedy:

One of the biggest problems with political coverage (IMHO) is that media often rely or promote anonymous sources, which gives people with an axe to grind a forum without having to suffer the consequences.

A number of traditional media platforms have anonymous source policies, but those policies always leave an out, or exemptions that (again, I believe) get exploited, and we've gotten to the point that even official briefings now are often conducted on a "not for attribution" basis.

Wonder where you stand on the use of anonymous sources in reporting, or at least in your reporting?

Second Q: How do you feel about the criticism that John McCain's views get covered above almost all others, mostly because he seemingly never says "no" to any of the Sunday AM programs? Will Chuck Todd's MTP feature John McCain as often as past versions have?

chucktoddnbc8 karma

I think you can't dismiss all anonymous sources... I try to be careful and only use them when it's about enhancing report that's important to share on a larger issue... I understand where you stand on this. This is one of those cases where the toothpaste is out of the tube so it's hard to see how to totally eliminate it; I think ethically, it's about journalists using it for when it seems appropriate, if it's about getting information that belongs in the public square that maybe can't get there without a source giving it to you without attribution. But it should be about important information for the public, not anonymous sourcing to settle scores.

My goal is to have newsmakers who are involved with the shaping of the policy of the moment. I'm not going to book elected pundits; If McCain is involved in major legislation, a la immigration, he's an important guest to have on... if he's leading the Congressional authorization on war, etc... You get my drift. I think it's about making sure the newsmakers we have on are involved in the shaping of the policy. So it's about relevancy, period.

Hairygerman7 karma

Who is the one person, now deceased, that you would have loved to interview?

chucktoddnbc10 karma

Nixon... seems like it would have been a great challenge

dimplejuice7 karma

When are you going to get rid of the facial hair? Your ratings will probably go up when you debut a smooth, clean shaven look.

chucktoddnbc29 karma

I guess I should never say never; I could mess up shaving one morning where I have to shave it for the day... but honestly, every time I look in the mirror and at that beard, I see my late father. Shaving it off would feel like getting rid of a piece of him that I carry every day. Sorry for playing sentimentalist, but it happens to be true

Andken6 karma

How do you intend to balance the necessity of access to politicians and the necessity of asking tough questions to them?

chucktoddnbc7 karma

Hope the public rewards the public officials who aren't afraid to answer tough questions

CopEatingDonut5 karma

How much time do you think you'll have with the President before he sits down? Is there a kind of pre-interview or does he sweep in from his tank-limo and just talk it out?

chucktoddnbc7 karma

It's usually no more than 2-3 minutes while we get him hooked up with a mic and test the cameras. The longest off-cam conversation we had before an interview was last year before the health care debacle sitdown I had with him when we small-talked about the Incognito-Martin Dolphin situation.

anthemboy75 karma

How happy are you that Louisville joined the ACC after Monday's game?

chucktoddnbc4 karma

My late father-in-law was a star QB at Louisville, so I'm not allowed to say bad things about Louisville in my household! I'm not upset about Louisville... I'm upset about Miami not being prepared and for Miami high school area kids going to Louisville and showing up theU. It's time for the "State of Miami" to return, meaning that the best players in the best high school football factories in the country go to Miami.

Arpikarhu4 karma

do you feel any culpability as a journalist for the way journalists have failed our nation by becoming parrots for govt spokespeople and not doing any real fact finding or truth digging?

chucktoddnbc10 karma

I certainly believe washington journalists have the same problem washington politicians have... we've collectively lost touch and credibility with the rest of America, outside the coasts (or as I like to say, the Acela Corridor of DC to Boston). I think it's about getting back out in the America between the coasts... reporting on the struggles to dig out from the Great Recession. The coasts have dug out, other small cities and big towns have not. That's where this began of late, imo

whatamightygoodman4 karma

Will we see an openly gay presidential nominee in the next 30 years? Has the country come far enough that they would be willing to vote for a gay president?

chucktoddnbc5 karma

Definitely. I think the country is "ready" now.

letdogsvote4 karma

Dennis Ericson or Jimmy Johnson?

chucktoddnbc7 karma

Jimmy Johnson, not even close. Erickson was the first U coach to hurt the program

sframe93 karma

What shampoo do you use? Do you use conditioner?

chucktoddnbc11 karma

whatever is in the shower; I don't have enough hair to worry about anything fancy