Chuck "Meet the Press" saw a ratings jump with the debut of moderator Chuck Todd. Photo: NBC News

Chuck Todd is off to a good start, but he has a long way go to reverse the fortunes of “Meet the Press.”

The goateed journalist, who was NBC News’ chief White House correspondent and remains its political director, made his debut as the 12th moderator of the long-running program Sunday, attracting 2.977 million total viewers and making “Meet the Press” the first in its late-morning time slot, according to early figures from Nielsen Media. The NBC show beat out longtime rivals “Face the Nation” on CBS, “This Week” on ABC and “Fox News Sunday.”

The No. 1 spot was the first ratings win for “Meet the Press” since February. Although all the major Sunday-morning news programs have seen their ratings decline over the past decade, “Meet the Press” was hit particularly hard by the death of popular host Tim Russert in 2008. Russert’s successor, David Gregory, was never quite able to connect with audiences in the same way. In fact, Gregory was at the center of numerous controversies within the media community, including an interview last year in which he asked journalist Glenn Greenwald why he “shouldn’t be charged with a crime” for “aiding and abetting” National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Rumors of Gregory’s ouster circulated for months as the show’s viewership hit one all-time low after another. The politically obsessive Todd was announced as Gregory’s successor last month. For his inaugural show, Todd interviewed President Barack Obama about the threat from the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS.         

A spokesperson for NBC News told Politico Monday that the network is happy with the strong debut ratings but added, “We know that one week does not equal a trend, and expanding our regular audience will take a slow build week to week.”

“Meet the Press” first aired in 1947, before most American families even had a television. It's the longest-running American TV series in history.

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