David Gregory Wasn’t the Real Problem with NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’

David Gregory Meet The PRess

COMMENTARY: Ousted host didn't get the format suitable to his talent

To the surprise of no one, Chuck Todd was tapped Thursday to replace David Gregory in the anchor chair at NBC’s struggling “Meet the Press.” Rumors of his demise had been rampant for so long that his removal was a foregone conclusion.

Even Gregory’s harshest critics should have some sympathy for the guy. He had some bumps in the road but for the most part proved himself just as tough an interviewer as his peerless predecessor, Tim Russert. Perhaps Russert was really the problem here: When a legend casts a shadow that long, no one underneath it really has a shot at shining through.

NBC threw out the baby instead of the bathwater that is the show’s real problem: its format. Terrific an interviewer as Gregory is, there was too much airtime devoted to overheated, predictable rhetoric from both sides of the aisle. What few light tweaks that were made to the format, like Jim Miklaszewski’s bland dispatches, weren’t nearly enough to fix Gregory’s problems.

Had NBC News chief Deborah Turness, who is now suggesting that significant format changes are ahead with Todd in place, experimented meaningfully with the “Meet the Press” format while Gregory was still in the anchor chair, perhaps he would still be there.

Then there was the sight of Gregory twisting in the wind for as long as he had while NBC futilely tinkered on the show. Not a month seemingly went by without some press report on his imminent ouster, followed by strenuous denials from NBC. If Turness was going to stick so firmly by Gregory’s side, perhaps she owed him more time to make the kind of substantive changes to his show that never really materialized.

Given the sideshow Gregory’s fate became, no wonder he’s out of a job. Which isn’t to say that NBC can be blamed for making the tough choice to drop Gregory given the reality of the show’s ratings. At some point, there’s no distinction to be made between baby and bathwater–the latter taints the former if they’ve been in the tub together for too long.

As successors go, Todd is certainly worthy. He has years of practice under his belt on “Press” and MSNBC, building up a reputation as an insider with a keen eye for poll numbers.

It will be interesting to see what’s next for Gregory. The year-long vulture-pecking that preceded his ouster may make him damaged goods for competitors that might otherwise tap someone with his level of talent. Surely a CNN or CBS isn’t going to put him in the game on Sunday mornings, but there’s got to be other venues for Gregory to do his thing.

But thinking about his possibilities elsewhere on the dial may be an anachronistic way of thinking in an era when a veteran like Katie Couric now calls Yahoo home. For instance, what about Netflix?

The streaming VOD service stunned the industry recently by announcing its entry into the talk show genre, with Chelsea Handler. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Netflix has contemplated getting into the news business as well in some limited fashion, and someone with Gregory’s bona fides might represent just the opportunity.

No matter where Gregory goes next, it’s in his best interest in the short term to just lay low and let the memory of the last six months fade. In time, the industry and viewers will remember the talent that brought him to “Press’ in the first place.

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  1. Brenda says:

    Hurry back Mr.Gregory…. No matter what station you return to, it dosn’t make a difference too us. We wll be watching.

    NBC has shown us that, there is no such thing as a “loyalty” or “trust”.

  2. Cheryl says:

    What a mess! You botched the firing of Ann Curry, and I through that deal, I lost respect for Matt Lowder because he helped to push her out of the Today show…then you botched David Gregory and pushed him out of the NBC door, a lot quieter and how are your ratings today? Now, you had to react to poor Brian Williams’s stupid mistake, but hey, the man has given and given and given these past few years. I hope someone picks him up and he continues to be a great anchor on another network or cable.. Is second chances in America a thing of the past? Well, I switched from the Today Show, I switched from MTP to another news channel on Sunday and now I will switch from NBC to CBS for my nightly news….NBC, Take care of your people! I can’t wait to see what you do to Lester Holt after all of this settles and he is rewarded for his loyality…when all else fails anywhere on the Globe…send good old Lester. Oh yeah, lots of luck to Lowder and Savannah..CBS Morning is going to eat you for lunch…

  3. IRENE B. says:

    I agree with Sandy H……….other than I stopped watching MTP. Disappointed in NBC management; you showed no class.

  4. Sandy H says:

    I miss David Gregory at the helm of MTP. Chuck Todd, as a reporter was good but by his own admission, he’s a numbers guy. And as we all know , statistics can be manipulated and don’t tell the whole story. I, at 68, have never been polled about anything. How NBC once again , unceremoniously, ousted one of their long standing producing on-air associates, makes me wonder how long I will continue to watch NBC. So far, today was the most interesting of the Chuck Todd MTP’s.

  5. If I were in combat, I would be hard pressed to call on NBC for backup !!!!!!

    • kitkat says:

      I am very sorry to see David Gregory go he is one of the best Reporter on T.V.I wish him the best where ever he.This is a great lost to NBC.I wonder why they mistreat people the way they do.I hope there ratings continue to drop.MSNBC is better than this station.

  6. Bull57 says:

    I grew so tired of the back and forth arguing that the substance of the episode was lost. The program became not about the news, but the talking heads reporting on the news!

  7. malice420dotcom says:

    They couldn’t find his talent ? That’s funny. It can’t be that hard to find something to lie about or make up or blame Bush

  8. robert hharway md says:

    I think Todd’s debut was terrible. He continually tried to one-up the President and failed miserably

  9. steven dworkin says:

    exactly correct

  10. lmrdee says:

    It’s all about ratings…if he hadn’t been so left wing we will not be talking here…and besides, he got a $4million walk away present…i bet he’s laughing all tje way to the bank…now, do you still feel bad?…

  11. thank you says:

    I enjoyed reading your post. Very good ideas.

  12. lmrdee says:

    Darn right john…and they just refuse to believe it…they can put any other guy here and the low ratings will presist because of their liberal bias..

  13. Brenda Leyendecker says:

    I can think of no one better than Gregory to step into the position he did after Tim Russert’s death. Shoes impossible to fill. I think NBC keeps having “Conan moments” and needs to realize that on screen talent is not the answer to all problems.

  14. John Fla says:

    Could NBCs low ratings have anything to do with editing the news to fit THEIR left wing bias?

  15. grasumish says:

    Thank you for a great article.

    I hope David Gregory reads it. I hope also that he might read my comment.

    I thought Gregory was very smart, too smart for Prime Time.

    David, talk to PBS. You are a great researcher and interviewer. I appreciated all your hard work.

    I don’t appreciate NBC’s tactics: Conan, Ann Curry, and you. Probably countless others too.

    Prime time is getting more and more watered down. I’m sorry that MTP must be diluted to appeal to the ADHD younger crowd. Don’t forget the toots and whistles.

    I used to like NBC news. I’d like to time how many minutes of actual news there is. I bet it’s less and less. Gotta appeal to the Wheel of Fortune crowd, and those who watch the mindless reality shows and comedies.

    So here you have a show that actually could make you think! How novel. I agree with what you wrote. If it, indeed, was the format, NBC could have tried different formats during Gregory’s tenure. I don’t buy it. David Gregory was too smart for NBC and I think that was threatening.

    Shame on you, NBC. You are totally spineless. This reminds me of the “Closing of the American Mind.” I’m sorry you have to lower the bar and turn MTP into every other news show. We watched because we liked the format. It’s what we grew up on. Make little changes. Like 60 Minutes. Now, I have another reason not to watch NBC. I’ll switch to CBS. They seem to value expertise.

  16. Ruth says:

    I thought David was a very intelligent anchor man. I looked forward to watching him every Sunday. I hope he gets a job similar to Charlie Rose’s interviews.

  17. Tona Nichols says:

    I loved meet the press with David Gregory

    I loved the today show with ann curry.

    Hmmmm sounds very familiar to me that NBC likes to fire people who give their all to the network!!!

    I find it quite annoying

    • steven dworkin says:

      after watching Chuck Todd this morning it was clear that Gregory didn’t have the panash needed to carry on as Russerts replacement..MTP was an institution and Gregory was the wrong guy to carry the load

  18. john says:

    He was so one sided it was ridiculous when he interview people for no left

  19. Patricia says:

    I for one was a fairly regular viewer of Meet the Press since the days of Tim Russert. It should have been obvious to any of the show’s regular viewers that Chuck Todd was being groomed to replace David Gregory. What surprised me was the way in Gregory’s departure was handled. NBC didn’t even give him the chance to say good-bye, choosing instead to broadcast a paean to Chuck Todd before he takes over as moderator. Gregory was essentially hustled out the back door.

    I am not planning to watch the program anymore after this. I don’t particularly like Todd and only put up with him when he appeared as a guest. Apparently NBC thinks it can boost the show’s ratings by doing this. Well, it has already lost one viewer. Good thinking, NBC. I liked David Gregory but I did get tired of hearing political stuffed shirts pontificating about the American public with no real idea what is going on. I have suffered a drastic reduction in my standard of living since Barack Obama took office, not that I am blaming him in particular. After four years of unemployment or underemployment, I am barely surviving. But I feel that the program is geared toward affluent viewers (just look at the commercials) and the guests cannot or will not connect with the vast majority of voters. That is just my opinion but it would take a really compelling guest or subject to get me to watch the program again.

  20. Wendi Wiggins says:

    When approximately 90% of the national media is owned by 6 mult billion dollar corporations, the main problem is/ was not David Gregory….it is the fact that these very corporations are trying to convince the American people that the main stream media is” liberal”. It is no such thing. Meet the Press has been steadily turning into “Fox lite”. When the most regular guests are the folks who have been the most mistaken when it comes to foreign policy, i.e.fighting unnecessary wars, etc., that is a big black eye for” objective” reporting. In what world should Dick Cheney, John McCain, & Lindsay Graham be the go-to people to listen to when it comes to handling situations in Syria, Iraq, or any other political hot spot?? The very people that share so much responsibility for our current messy standing in the middle east??! Yet these are the very people that we see ad nauseam week after week. Where are reporters that ask hard hitting questions, and are truly curious about talking to as many sources as possible? I’ll tell you where they are….they are
    either unemployed or working online. They are no longer hired for these jobs on
    TV. The people that are now hired for these jobs appear to be water carriers for the far right wing of the republican party. It is a sad state of affairs. Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow are turning over in there graves, I suspect.

  21. Ron Nunya says:

    people are tired of hearing the same stupid talking points regurgitated all week and then one more time on sunday.

  22. Executive Ranx says:

    Todd won’t improve the show’s ratings. People have made other choices. ABC & CBS dominate, while FOX has its core audience. NBC has lost its edge.

  23. Keble says:

    I believe that the average viewer simply got tired of watching stoic, stern faced, do-nothing conservatives march out in lockstep each week spouting their never changing viral rhetoric. I for one, won’t miss the spew my coffee moments I had while watching them try to trump each other by revealing who would prove to be the weeks nastiest & most mean spirited guest. It became like a game show at my house.

  24. bill walsh says:

    Todd a lib replaces Gregory a big lib, replaces Russert a faux moderate really a lib
    all this show cares about are lib stories and Hillary as of now
    the biases agenda is the issue

  25. Boyd Crowder says:

    Who is gonna sit there on a Sunday and watch those DO NOTHING Cap Hill clowns come on the show ……

    • Susan says:

      I try not to watch Meet the Depressed unless there’s a very interesting guest on. It doesn’t matter to me who the moderator is….I’m tuning in to hear the guest. So, try to get guests who are credible and who have the power to put their words into actions. We get all rhetoric and no follow-through.

      In the past, MTP had a group of different panelists each week and they were the ones who asked questions of the guest. The show was much more informative.
      That format was the most interesting and successful and that is why Meet the Press was so popular.
      Bring it back.
      Remember, when you get your talking points from either political party, viewers will turn it off.

  26. Brian says:

    “proved himself just as tough an interviewer as his peerless predecessor, Tim Russert.”

    If you call kissing up to the powerful for money tough interviewing. I call it something else.

  27. phyllis kay says:

    the hyped up intro of chuck todd to meet the press was ludicrous! I was never a fan of David
    Gregory, but the mean way he was outed makes me squirm. How nasty can a network be –
    was he such an ogre? Where’s the respect for the work that he did for so many years. Disgusting!

  28. corry brunson says:

    pity!!

  29. wjm980 says:

    The problem with all of these shows is the predictability of them. No matter what the topic you know what the lib commenters will say and you know what the right commenters will say.

  30. Barbara Huffman says:

    I loved David and am so sorry about his departure . Hope to see him often on TV.

    • Ann says:

      I loved David Gregory also; he made Political comments palpable, not easy to do these days. I want to know what he will be doing in the future.

  31. Elaine Wentworth says:

    Evidently NBC thinks people are a disposable commodity. Didn’t they do this also to Ann Curry?? That turned off a lot of people from watching NBC!!

  32. elmer dee says:

    all nbc(maybe msnbc too) is to stop carrying water for the obama admin, and make every politician accountable for what they say/said…remember tim russert?…geez louise!

  33. BiasedMuch? says:

    WOW! I was shocked to read this. I’ve been a very regular viewer of MTP for 15 years. David Gregory was far too easy on the liberals and down right nasty to the right. His bias gleamed in his eyes. I wish nothing but the best for Gregory but he was in way over his head. And I think Todd will be better technically, but not much. Andrea Mitchell would probably be the best at hiding her bias. NBC needs to get back to journalism and away from being the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party. For a show like Meet the Press, NBC needs to look for someone who is going to drill both side of the aisle. Call them out hard. But them on the hot seat in front of the American people. But then again, that would be a show based on journalism, not propaganda.

  34. YouGotToBeKiddingMe says:

    The taint is on the product and it is called liberal. Remove that prejudice from the viewer’s thinking and you might find a renewal of interest in the show, but don’t count on anything other than a liberal perspective.

  35. Mike O says:

    David Gregory was not anywhere near the talent of past Meet the Press hosts, which had a lot to do with the ratings fall. Chuck Todd won’t be much better, they both went to the Liberal NBC school of Friends of Obama and far left leaning reporting. Meet the Press is supposed to be fair and balanced with the host as the mediator not the judge of what to report and to treat conservative guests differently than the softballs they serve up to Democratic friends.

    I won’t watch it.

  36. I learned this in 2011 in radio – even if they like what you do (in this case they didn’t) doesn’t mean they like you.

  37. RobL says:

    Blame the dead guy? Seriously?

  38. Okieflyover says:

    When you said he was as good an interviewer as Russert you lost all credibility. The rest of it is just blather.

  39. ojthemurder says:

    david Gregory was a cheerleader suck up to the democrats. it’s long been rumored the “this thrill going up the back of my leg” came from DGregory, Chris Matthews stole it, made his own. But no worries, that’s the level of “jouerbalism” you get from NBC. Good riddance to Chuck Farris’ competition.

  40. ZombieSpotter says:

    Holy delusional! Gregory and talent should never be in the same sentence unless it is Gregory’s talent for self destruction and rabid hatred for anyone that opposed Obama was only matched by his ignorance or anything outside of the Washington DC liberal clique bubble and nastiness to anyone not worth sucking up to. Chuck Todd is also a committed, biased liberal attack dog, but he is not as unstable as Gregory. Show will still die as long as it spews nothing but MSNBC Obama and DNC talking points. Any Republican or Independent that appears on this show is a fool. Hopefully they will grow some back bone and boycott the entire network. But that would take courage, something most all current republicans lack.

  41. Gregory was a tough interviewer if you had Republican after your name! haha

    The Woman Producer was not very Good..She should have been jettisoned 1st…

  42. Excalibur says:

    the GENRE is over. thank goodness. it was a farce from the very beginning.

  43. Dennis says:

    You gotta be kiddin,’ Wallenstein! Talents? David Gregory? Not in this lifetime. As I understand it, Gregory was not only booted off the show (Meet the Press), he’s no longer with the NBC network. Perhaps he could go work with goofy Al Sharpton on MSNBC, which is equally bereft of talent.

  44. Robert R. says:

    IMHO, this author has misread the failure of MTP under Gregory’s leadership. Shows fail or succeed for one reason only; viewership. And MTP under Gregory failed to appeal to conservatives in the way that Tim Russert’s balanced approach did. NBC’s Sunday morning viewership has many more conservatives then Gregory and NBC would like to imagine. Gregory was never as harsh or critical as to the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. His panel discussions were always over-balanced with MSNBC ultra-liberals. So MTP fails for the same reason that CNN does, while Fox News thrives. Let’s hope Chuck Todd is wiser and more balanced.

  45. sheriann says:

    Tim Russert was MTP and I too think of him often. With that being said, I have barely watched the show since David Gregory came on as Host. At first, for obvious reasons, and then because I never got that warm and fuzzy feeling when I watched him. Mr. Gregory, seemed to not smile much and looked to young for all that grey. IMHO. I think Chuck Todd who grew up with Tim Russert as a mentor, colleague, and friend at NBC should have been his successor from the start. Chuck appeared so many times next to Tim during their years covering Campaigns and other political issues, it was like watching a Father and Son together. Here’s hoping it’s not to late to put this show back on the map. To have someone host that the American viewers can enjoy a cup of Coffee with, and relax in their homes on a Sunday morning would certainly be a testament to Tim’s legacy.

  46. Catherine says:

    I have faithfully watched Meet the Press for years, but I’m rethinking my loyalty. I feel David Gregory was an excellent host. It will take a lot to equal his performance. Glad he got a good pay off.

    • BiasedMuch? says:

      I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you are a die hard democrat? This is the only way I can imagine someone would think so highly of Gregory. And I would hope most Democrats could recognize bias (even if they agree with it).

      • Richard Gozinya says:

        Actually Democrats don’t like Gregory either. I think a lot of people who assume media bias everywhere are just dogmatic nitwits. The truth of the matter is these people are all about ratings. They don’t exist to serve any political ideology, and they certainly have no interest in informing the public about anything, as Chuck Todd has clearly stated. They’re all shills for the multinational corporations who sign their paychecks.

  47. Tony says:

    The problem isn’t the format, it’s His obvious liberal bias. There really isn’t any question about his political views and it’s impact on the show. Todd will have the same problem because he shares the same left leaning bias. It’s too bad because I did enjoy the show at one time.

  48. Karen says:

    I loved Tim Russert and miss him everyday…still. I thought David Gregory did a great job as a successor. I watch MTP every Sunday and when I couldn’t, I recorded it. I don’t like what NBC is doing. I am a MSNBC viewer and therefore know them all, Todd, Mitchell, Mathews, Maddow, Hayes, O’Donnell, Morning Joe, etc. Don’t like the manner in which this was handled and may not watch or tape MTP from here on out. David Gregory, I wish you all the best! Turness, although I have not walked in your shoes, jury’s still out on you.

  49. Joy Rinehart says:

    The only appropriate replacement for Tim Russert is Luke Russert . . . . . nothing against Chuck Todd or David Gregory.

    • Bethany Hamilton says:

      Luke is a child with no experience. Giving him the MTP job, based solely on last name, would be the final nail in its coffin.

  50. Stumpy Peeps says:

    It doesn’t matter who sits in that seat IF it’s another biased Lib preaching to the
    choir. Pope Gregory the Obsequious was tossing softballs to the Dems and giving bare knuckles to the Repubs. He was so blatant at it that ratings showed even the Dems didn’t watch. Chuck Todd has proven himself to be just more of the same. Thanks, but no thanks.

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