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The Woman Behind Russert

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NationalJournal.com’s Erin McPike sits down for an interview with Betsy Fischer, executive producer for (the oh-so-popular) “Meet The Press.”

Some interesting excerpts:

Q: On a lot of shows, Tim Russert asks many high-profile, frequent guests, “Are you running for president?” Can you speak to Russert’s desire to push that question and whether it causes some guests to shy away from appearing on the show?

Fischer: Well, it’s just something that Tim likes to do. Of course, we’d always love every senator to announce their intention to run on “Meet The Press.” But you never know when that’s going to happen, so Tim always has to ask the question and be ready for that. So he does have a good time asking those questions, and we always like to “save the tape,” as they say, for when minds get changed…

Q: Will Mr. Russert be pulling out the infamous wipe-off board any time soon, or is that just saved for a presidential election year?

Fischer: [Laughs] It really proved to be the perfect way to kind of give an outlook and give a score-by-score of what was going on that election night.

All the fancy graphics in the world couldn’t just say, “OK, here’s what you need to get to win,” and “here’s what states are still in play and who’s going to get these states,” and it was just an easy way to show the viewers exactly how that was going to play out. He did a little bit of it the last election cycle, and I’m sure we’ll be doing it again….

Q: How did Tim Russert’s role in the CIA leak investigation affect the show? He came out and explained it, to some extent, but he seemed to avoid a lot of the buzz that some key players dealt with.

Fischer: I really don’t think it had an impact on the show. Tim was very up front from day one in this whole situation. NBC put out a statement, and he talked about it on the show as well, and we certainly did our share of discussions about the topic on the show. He was very frank with how he was involved in the situation, so I really don’t think it had an impact on the show at all.

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