August 17, 2013

Every Sunday for the last 66 years, the anchor has intoned, "If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press."

Turns out, not so much these days.

The network’s Sunday morning flagship Meet the Press–the longest-running show on network television, as its announcer reminds the audience every week–has recently fallen to a 21-year low. And as of the past few weeks, the show has come in third place on Sunday morning, trailing CBS’ Face the Nation and ABC’s This Week.

More than four years ago, the Los Angeles Times warned that the perennial “king of Sunday morning TV news talk shows could soon lose its crown,” a prediction that has been borne out in the years since. According to Nielsen data, Meet the Press is averaging its smallest total viewer audience (2.913 million) in 21 years and smallest 25-54 demo performance (854,000) in more than 21 years, dating back to the 1991-1992 season.

Now it's entirely possible that all the blame cannot be placed on host David Gregory, but come on...

David Gregory is the same guy who blithely told everyone it wasn't his job to fact check his guests.

David Gregory is the same guy who thinks that being a back-up dancer for Karl Rove was a good idea.

David Gregory is the same "journalist" who lets unconvicted criminal Ralph Reed trash the president without disclosing that he was an official proxy for the Romney campaign.

David Gregory is the same "journalist" who offered up an unchallenged segment to promote Michelle Rhee's StudentFirst organization.

David Gregory is the same "journalist" who rejected the idea of challenging the lies to the run up to the Iraq War, but thinks it's completely appropriate to ask Senate Majority Leader if he feels bad about being mean to President Bush.

David Gregory is the same guy who thinks that President Obama needs to get tough with seniors about accepting cuts to the social safety nets so that Gregory's paycheck doesn't see a dint.

David Gregory is the same guy who speaks to Republican lobbying groups, donating his fee only when caught.

David Gregory is the same "journalist" under fire for brandishing a firearm magazine in front of NRA head Wayne LaPierre.

David Gregory is the same "journalist" who had the temerity to ask Glenn Greenwald if he was committing a crime by reporting on Edward Snowden's NSA claims. (above)

So sure, it may not be David Gregory and the patently horrible job he does that's causing MTP's ratings to sink to a generational low. But he's not helping. But then again, there's a lot that's sinking with NBC News:

The thing to keep in mind about Gregory, though, is that while nothing is guaranteed in television news, there’s little reason to believe he’ll be going anywhere anytime soon, despite MTP‘s flailing ratings. The reason for this is obvious: It’s tough to call somebody out for smelling lousy when you’re all sitting in the middle of a garbage dump. NBC News is such a disaster right now from top to bottom — with numbers down across the board, from Today to Nightly to MSNBC — that barring a complete clean-slate wipe, it’s tough to imagine any serious action being taken when it comes to on-air personnel. Incremental adjustments would hardly scratch the surface of fixing the problem; why fire Gregory when you still have Lauer, Williams, and most of MS’s prime-time sitting at the helm of the sinking ship?

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