Most of America is familiar with Meet the Press that exists in the 21st Century. It is a television panel focus on the newsmakers of the day. †What many people may not realize is that the original idea, that is the precursor to the modern NBC Sunday morning program, had its beginnings on the radio in the late 1950ís and early 60ís.
The press panel would incorporate various journalists and news people from newspapers and broadcasting networks, including the regular member Laurence Spivak, who produced the program. The Korean war, Cuban Missile Crisis, politics in general were on the minds of millions of Americans and Meet the Press radio program allowed the listener to have an "ear" into the workings of government and the possible scandals that might cross paths of the Washington insiderís club.
However, Meet the Press did not just focus on the government happenings. In fact the radio show went international and into the cultural paths of the day. Writers were illuminated, foreign leaders were lit-up and the notorious did not go unnoticed. To Meet the Press was to sit on the proverbial hot seat and be placed under the media microscope.
In one excellent example of Meet the Press, Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin was the focus. He had been leveling charges that the democrats in the House were not getting a fair shake on being heard and their concerns being purposely overlooked. As he faced Mr Spivak and three other panel members, his views on then Senator Johnson not playing fairly on a bipartisan level was being scrutinized. †Just as with other Meet the Press programs, Senator Proxmire could not escape the barrage of questions and expected answers that the press placed his way. Similar to the modern television offspring, the radio narrative did not fail to bring the expected pressure that the listening audience relished to be a part of.
In another Meet the Press episode, one of the few Republican victors of the recent election, Governor Nelson Rockefeller became a bit of a spotlight presence with his family background and prior government positions. The press panel member asked a rather direct question of the governor if he felt with his new election if New York would see a deficit or plus in its budget. Governor Rockefeller did not hesitate to categorically say, "deficit." †The governor came into a state that was laden with debt that surpassed many other states. The governor was placed under the microscope, yet he held his own. †Contrary to the way questions are handled today, the press showed a certain decorum of civility and allowed the panel focus to actually completely answer the interrogation.
These programs were examples of the type of focused and direct cross-examination that Meet the Press became famous for manipulating. The American audience might groan or hurrah over the answers given, but they never went away feeling as if they had been uneducated. Meet the Press brought an intellectual framework that was needful for a society that felt a need to know what was happening around their lives. The listening citizenry would tune in, expect an a program that was insightful and inspiring and always felt compelled to become established in the issues and news that overlayed their lives. "Meet the Press" was an invitation to meet the mind and the heartbeat of the American landscape.