If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press, NBC's political talk show, which happens to be the longest running show on TV. For Chuck Todd, the show's moderator since last year (he is also the network's political director and was previously its chief White House correspondent), bringing clarity to complicated political issues is a mission. Sunday is also a family day that he spends watching sports and hanging out with his kids (Margaret, 11, and Harrison, 8) and wife, Kristian Denny Todd, a strategic communications consultant.
Is there anything you miss about your pre-Meet the Press Sundays? I miss being a viewer. I loved my old Sunday routine. I had a way of watching all of three and parts of five [Sunday morning news] shows. I miss reading the Sunday New York Times and the Washington Post at a more leisurely pace, while having the iPad open, drinking coffee.
How do you get ready for the show? The best part of this job is preparing for it. It's the continuing learning program of life. You suddenly have to become an expert on subject matter X or person Y. I may only use 10 percent of what I dig into, but at some point that other 90 percent comes into play.
How did you become a "political junkie"? Politics and history were big in my house. I was forced to watch the prime-time news conferences with Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or the debates or conventions. I didn't realize until I went to school that I knew more about the elections than anybody else. I like that you can follow it like you follow sports. Keeping track of politics uses a similar part of the brain — a lot of stats, a lot of numbers, competition, whether it's on the field or on the trail.
What have been your biggest surprises about this job? How hard it is to do one day of television a week, and how devoted the audience is. I think more people than ever are looking for clarity. They're looking for people who can break through the noise, and that's our job — all of us who have the responsibility of a Sunday morning show. I'm also always surprised that people take as controversial the things that I don't expect to come across as controversial.
What lessons will we learn from the 2016 election? Donald Trump has been a one-person promotion machine for the campaign. There wouldn't be this much engagement without him. Plenty of people who are running will never admit that publicly. But it is not hard to get Donald Trump to answer a question. You can't say the same thing for most of the others running. So I hope one of the lessons is that candidates realize there's nothing wrong with being accessible.
Visit Parade.com/chucktodd for his take on the three critical issues — global insecurity, broken politics and economic uncertainty — that he thinks deserve more attention in 2016.