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August 12, 2011

Women Running the Show

betsy fischer

Betsy Fischer behind the scenes.

Photo Credit: NBC News

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The Politico
Betsy Fischer, 41, Executive Producer, Meet the Press, NBC

What I do: I stay on top of the biggest political stories of the week — elections, the economy, world affairs — and book the newsmakers: House and Senate leaders, presidential candidates, heads of state.

Proudest accomplishment: Navigating the transition that the program went through after the untimely death of longtime moderator Tim Russert three years ago. I had worked closely with him for 17 years — I've been with Meet the Press ever since college — and it was very difficult emotionally to go through that personal and professional loss while producing the show every week. But I knew that Tim would want us to move forward and "go get 'em," as he would say. Tom Brokaw moderated the show for an interim period of six months, and then David Gregory took over as permanent moderator. Together, we have been able to evolve the show, which is the longest-running TV show in history — it debuted in 1947 — while also staying true to its mission.

Major mishap: Last year, I was chewed out by the chief of protocol from the Afghan embassy for failing to properly greet President Karzai when he arrived at our studio for an interview. I explained that I was on strict orders from U.S. Secret Service agents not to get near him. The man remained completely unimpressed with my excuse.

What it's like to work with David Gregory: He's supersmart, motivated, and amazingly self-aware. We both have kids, so we're on the same wavelength when it comes to family. We actually went to college together at American University — even though I joke that with all his silver hair, he looks 10 years older than me!

Greatest challenge: The alarm clock at 3:45 a.m. every Sunday morning.

How I got my start: I started interning at Meet the Press when I was a senior in college, and worked my way up to executive producer.

Word to the wise: Anticipate what your bosses need. Eventually, you will know what they want before they do — a key way to become indispensable.

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