Citing his close personal and professional relationship with Tim Russert, veteran anchor Tom Brokaw has stepped up to lead Meet the Press through the 2008 election season. It's a good interim move to maintain the respect and high level of quality which the show has become famous for.
What the Brokaw decision also allows is an unprecedented opportunity for NBC to give ample thought to who will hold the permanent reigns on Meet the Press. It provides the network with the chance to audition some of the women selected by over one hundred Huffington Post readers last Friday, who strongly feel these women deserve at least a shot at filling Russert's chair.
Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and senior correspondent for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, easily led the pack among readers, with Rachel Maddow, host of Air America Radio's Rachel Maddow Show and political analyst for MSBNC, coming in a close second.
Ifill and Maddow bested the next two winners, Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent for CBS News, and Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, by a considerable margin.
Voting by readers of this site makes it clear that each of these women should be given the opportunity to trial anchor Meet the Press, allowing viewers and NBC executives to sample those in the running before any decision is made about a permanent replacement.
I once hitched a ride back to my hotel with Mitchell and Ifill from a democratic convention, and listened as they mused about who beat out who for whatever story or subject with laughter and frustration. They are women who are accustomed to competition, alongside women and men, and whose work is of the highest quality because of it.
It wouldn't be amateur hour with these women at the helm. By giving them each the opportunity to guest anchor the highly influential Meet the Press, their presence would help to normalize women's place at the head of the table. Hosting such a show would undoubtedly up women's odds for these important positions regardless of who ends up in this top slot.