NBC’s Chuck Todd and his Meet the Press crew were in Madison on Wednesday night shooting this Sunday’s Meet The Press episode that will be centered around gun violence and will feature views and commentary and ideas from leaders in the Madison area.
“They’ve been watching what’s going on in Wisconsin around gun issue. Our Legislature is talking about these things and putting bills out there, our governor has a $100 million proposal [for school safety], and we have thousands of kids marching on the state Capitol,” One City Early Learning Center CEO Kaleem Caire explains to Madison365. Caire was interviewed on Wednesday by Chuck Todd and will appear on Meet The Press this Sunday. “They wanted to come here because [Meet The Press moderator] Chuck Todd has said that the couple of times he has come to Wisconsin, he has gotten some great discussions. He said Wisconsin sort of reflects the rest of the country.”
Meet the Press is a weekly national television news/interview program broadcast on NBC that specializes in interviews with leaders in Washington, D.C., across the country and even the world on issues of politics, economics, foreign policy and other public affairs, along with panel discussions that provide opinions and analysis. The show originates from NBC’s bureau in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, Meet the Press set up shop at Tripp Commons at the Memorial Union on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and interviewed seven people from the Madison area. This was big-time national news show – the longest-running program in television history. Was Caire feeling nervous with all of the cameras on him?
“Nahhhhh, man,” Caire replies. “I’ve been on TV shows before.”
Yeah, but this is Meet the Press?
“I was on Hannity & Combs four times. I used to be on BET a few times when George Curry had his show. I’ve been with Tavis Smiley,” says Caire, who has spent some time in Washington D.C. before returning to Madison. He was co-founder and CEO of Next Generation Education Foundation, a Bowie, Maryland based nonprofit organization that addresses the educational and career development needs of young men. Caire also held executive leadership positions with Target Corporation, Fight For Children of Washington D.C., and the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). “After a while you get used to being on TV. What was interesting this time was that I was doing it at Tripp Commons in Madison!”
Todd has been the show’s moderator since 2014, and he also serves as political director for NBC News. During his stop in Madison, Todd and the interviewees talked about several issues surrounding gun violence including regulation, public health, mental health, and background checks.
“It felt good to address this issue that is very broad,” Caire says. “As black people – especially in Madison – we always get called on to address the black issues. We don’t necessarily get called upon to address the broader issues so people don’t really hear from us in those contexts unless we are a member of Congress. In that regard, it was so cool to be doing this show.
“I got the conversation focused on the young people,” Caire adds. “Why are our kids having to march on state Capitols? They don’t have a lobbyist like adults do. I got real with them, man. There’s no real adult leadership on this and it’s sad.
“For black folks, guns have been an issue in our community for a long time and an issue very much in our poor communities,” he adds. “Kids have been getting shot. But now that white kids are going off and shooting up their schools, all of a sudden it becomes a national issue.”
Caire says that he made a point when talking with Chuck Todd to ask what the gun companies are doing about this epidemic. “Are they putting any of the money that they are making hand-over-fist into safety and health issue for citizens? They should be made to do that,” he says. “There should be a surcharge tax like there is for big tobacco. There should be a tax on weapons – the more intense the weapon, the higher the tax. We should use those funds to fund a healthy society and responsible citizenry and make sure safety issues are addressed.
“Chuck Todd told me that was an interesting idea,” Caire continues. “I’m hoping that the kids start demanding these things. Imagine these companies making all this money – these gun manufacturers make so much money – and them putting some of that money into social programs and workforce development and education – things that are leading young men in these poor neighborhoods to shoot each other. All too often, these young men lose hope.”
“Meet the Press” airs on Sunday, 10 a.m. Central on the NBC-TV network.
“I hope people tune in. It should be interesting,” Caire says. “I’m personally curious to see how much they use of what I said, but I know you’ll be able to catch the whole interview online at some point.”