I've long said that David Gregory was a bad choice to host Meet the Press. He was fine as a WH press pool reporter peppering Scottie, but it's another thing to host the # 1 talk show on Sunday and be a driving personality to captain the ship. Tim Russert for good or bad did have a presence on camera that Gregory simply does not possess.
Can he improve? Yes. Will he? I doubt it. What I've seen is a guy who's just hanging in there and trying to imitate the show's longstanding format, but without any of the bite it once had. It feels flat and convenient now. I thought NBC should have tried to develop a new voice from within all the other NBC news affiliates across the country, or go out and hire someone not in the NBC family.
Under Gregory, "Meet the Press" simply doesn't feel like the force it was under his legendary predecessor, Tim Russert, who died last June.
Vernie Gay of Newsday reviews Gregory's performance so far:
The problem? Actually, problems. The new moderator often seems like he's wearing a suit made for someone else - Russert - and as a result has yet to clearly establish why he got this gig instead of anyone else in the conga line of potential successors. Gregory is terrifically polished, well-informed, a good listener and has the talking points of both sides down cold. But he also seems more intent on covering the waterfront than digging for news, or in pushing the talking heads off their talking points. Recent interviews with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) felt like a waterfront that went on for miles - an endless vista of chatter and spin.
BOTTOM LINE "Meet the Press" is now the de facto safe show on Sunday morning - "safe," that is, for those being interviewed.
Gregory has been handed perhaps the most important program in television journalism. It's time to start acting like the king who rules wisely yet ruthlessly. Otherwise, his legacy will match that of Garrick Utley or Bill Monroe - moderators who were highly respected but not highly feared. In this job, it's vital to be both.
As we learned through the Scooter Libby trial, the Bush administration considered MTP a good place to get their talking points distributed even with Russert there and did so to scare the country into supporting a war with Iraq. If I was working for the Obama administration I'd look at it the same I. I imagine Dick will start to toughen up and President Obama is the media's prime target now so he'll start to be more aggressive as opposed to Russert who was a beltway insider and acquiesced some of his power to them so he could have access to the Villager class and remember, he often faced them when he wasn't doing his show. President Obama passed on MTP this time around and he's very good on the Leno's of the world, but after thinking about it, he might have taken Gregory to the cleaners this weekend. Reading right wing talking points as an interview technique would be a piece of cake for Obama to handle.
I said I was going to launch a segment that asks our readers to select a series of questions for David to ask his guests on Friday's and that will begin soon. If his effort doesn't pick up soon, Meet the Press will drop in the ratings and NBC will be looking for a new host fairly quickly.