Meet the Press didn’t just shape political journalism on TV. It invented it. So it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when Meet the Press celebrated its 70th anniversary by creating something new.
In November 2017, Comcast NBCUniversal provided philanthropic support to the nonprofit American Film Institute to launch the Meet the Press Film Festival in Washington, DC. Sixteen short-form documentaries explored different untold stories of American civic and political life. Produced by filmmakers across the country, the documentaries covered topics that included the opioid epidemic in small towns across America, prisoner reform, freedom of the press, and the fate of undocumented immigrant workers.
Powerful, insightful journalism has been the cornerstone of NBC News and Meet the Press from the beginning when it was the first show to invite political leaders to face tough questions on live television. The films in the Meet the Press Festival explored issues with the same rigor, but from a perspective outside the corridors of power in Washington, DC, and New York.
The new initiative with the American Film Institute is part of our goal of celebrating the legacy of Meet the Press and promoting greater understanding of the diverse issues facing our communities.
“The opioid epidemic, prisoner reform, elder abuse — these are all important issues. They impact the lives of millions of Americans,” says Chuck Todd, the show’s moderator since 2014. “Our legacy as a news organization is to bring the American experience into your living room. Through this film festival, we can surface issues that need to be talked about in a format that viewers enjoy, while opening the door for more points of view.”
The inaugural festival was a hit. Three of this year’s films were nominated for Academy Awards in the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category: Heroin(e), Edith+Eddie, and Knife Skills. Todd plans to build on the momentum with future Meet the Press film festivals. His long-term vision is an MTP Docs production company that funds short- and long-form documentaries by the dozens.
“There are so many stories we could tell and voices we could include,” Todd says. “We’ve never seen a mainstream documentary on the Stonewall riots or profiled the real senator behind the fictional book Advise and Consent. Given our current political moment, I’d love to see a Meet the Press documentary on former Louisiana governor Huey Long, who was a fiery populist in his day. That’s the beauty of this type of storytelling. It allows us to examine history through the lens of the present moment.”