In his “Stories I’d like to see” column, journalist and entrepreneur Steven Brill spotlights topics that, in his opinion, have received insufficient media attention. This article was originally published on Reuters.com.
1. Why isn’t Chuck Todd anchoring Meet the Press?
NBC’s Meet The Press is not simply mired in third place behind Face the Nation (CBS) and This Week (ABC). It has also become a boring hour weighed down with predictable guests answering bland questions from anchor David Gregory.
So can someone please do a story explaining why NBC chief White House reporter Chuck Todd hasn’t replaced Gregory?
Todd — who is also the host of MSNBC’s Daily Rundown — arguably should have been chosen in the first place as the successor to Tim Russert after Russert’s untimely death. In terms of political smarts, enthusiasm for political horse races, and instinct for asking the right follow-ups, Todd was Russert’s natural heir.
Now that it’s clear that Gregory has lost the Sunday morning dominance that Russert built up, why the NBC bosses have not given not Todd his chair is an absolute mystery.
2. How Sochi happened:
Given not only the obvious security problems but also the generally ridiculous proposition that Sochi was the most desirable place to hold this year’s Winter Olympics, it would be great to read a retrospective on how that decision happened.
The process by which the International Olympic Committee chooses its venues has long been suspected of being infected by back-room politics and even corruption. In 1998, members of the IOC were charged with taking bribes from Salt Lake City boosters who had persuaded them in 1995 to choose Salt Lake as the venue for the 2002 games. Although the local Salt Lake officials who got the IOC to choose their city were eventually acquitted on bribery charges, an independent IOC investigation resulted in ten Committee members being expelled. All kinds of details emerged during multiple investigations of millions spent on gifts and entertainment for members of the IOC and even jobs being provided to IOC family members.
One of the rationales that the Salt Lake boosters used was that their city had lost out to Nagano, Japan as the 1998 winter games venue, because Nagano’s boosters had so lavishly wined and dined IOC members.
All of which makes me want to see some stories, this week or next, about Olympics-salesmanship, Putin style.
3. Watching LGA crash:
This story in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month about the plans to replace the Central Terminal at LaGuardia — America’s worst major airport — begs for a reporter to make this his or her beat for as long as the project takes.
As I’ve written before, LaGuardia is run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an agency that even before the Chris Christie/George Washington Bridge shenanigans was renowned for its incompetence. According to the Journal’s Ted Mann, the LaGuardia project would be daunting even if run by people who knew what they were doing and cared about the public treasury:
It will be, one individual familiar with the effort said, “the most complicated construction project in the country” when primary work begins, sometime after a winning bidder is selected in April or May.
An airline industry official put it differently. For airlines that operate in the terminal during a construction project that could take seven years or longer — not to mention travelers who will see airport roads and parking disrupted — it will be “a nightmare,” this person said.
Mann quoted Port Authority officials as saying the project would cost $3.6 billion. I’ll bet the final tab is more than double that, an overage that would be on the low side compared with some of the Authority’s recent cost overruns. An even surer bet is that this project could be a great full-time beat for a reporter at one of New York’s dailies. If I were running Capital New York, the upstart recently bought and re-launched by Politico, I’d put someone on this right now, full time.
One immediate story for this LGA beat would focus on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement in his State of the State message that he wanted to take over the development of both LaGuardia and JFK airports, whose deterioration he declared was “inexcusable.”
How does Cuomo plan to do that, given that the Port Authority owns and controls the two airports? Does he have some leverage over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie that we don’t know about? Perhaps he thinks he can get Christie to yield because of the telephone conversation Cuomo and Christie reportedly had during the traffic jams at the GW Bridge, after a Cuomo Port Authority appointee interceded and forced an end to the “traffic study” that had choked Ft. Lee. Cuomo has yet to comment on what Christie said to him about the origins of the “traffic study.” Our LGA reporter should find out.