By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
As hard as they tried, fans of NBC correspondent Luke Russert never really had a chance of getting him installed as the host of Meet the Press after his dad, Tim Russert, died in June 2008. The job went to David Gregory.
But now as ABC struggles to find a replacement for George Stephanopoulos, who left as host of This Week to cohost Good Morning America, young Luke's fans are starting to suggest again that he might make a good host or cohost, especially as the Sunday shows drive for a younger audience.
A prominent ABC political pundit said grabbing Russert would be a major play to shake up the Sunday shows. Speaking on background, the pundit told Whispers: "It's a great time to buck the tide and throw caution to the wind."
Sunday show insiders also like the idea. Paul Schur, a former CNN and Fox spokesman, said, "Luke Russert has his youth, as well as the name, contacts, pedigree, and potential." Schur, who handled This Week competitor Fox News Sunday while with the network, added, "If ABC tapped into NBC's deep bench of talent, they could turn a future NBC News star into the fresh young face of Sunday morning talk."
Going with Russert, of course, would be a big change in direction from where the network has been heading. Instead of youth, it has been looking to the glory days of network broadcasting and Ted Koppel. But the Daily Beast's Lloyd Grove today threw cold water on that. And the network is using its homegrown talent in Terry Moran and Jake Tapper on the show now.
But, said a third fan of Russert's: "The kid's proven himself since he hit the scene. What the heck—I'd go for it."
You can follow Russert on NBC's First Read, where he is a regular Hill contributor.