NBC’s Meet The Press is cratering under David Gregory, which is why the head of NBC News is meeting with him to discuss “format changes” to the show. If Meet The Press continues to struggle, Gregory will be gone.
NBC News President Deborah Turness is in Washington, D.C., this week and will meet with “Meet the Press” host David Gregory and executive producer Rob Yarin to discuss changes to the format of the show, network sources said Monday.
The meeting, which will take place on Thursday, is part of Turness’s ongoing effort to improve “Meet the Press,” which has suffered in recent years and came in third place behind ABC’s “This Week” and CBS’s “Face the Nation” last quarter.
Sources said that improvements to “Meet the Press” will be one of Turness’s chief concerns on her two-day visit. The show’s fourth-quarter ratings marked the lowest total viewers “Meet” has had in a fourth quarter since 1991. Its ratings in the coveted 25-to-54 demo were the lowest in the show’s history.
Since Meet The Press follows the virtually the same format as every other Sunday morning news show (some form of guest, roundtable, roundtable) there isn’t a format change that can save the show. The reason why younger people aren’t tuning into Meet The Press is that the current show caters to Republicans, and the base of the GOP is old, male, and white.
If Meet The Press wants younger viewers, the show needs to feature guests that have appeal beyond the base of the Republican Party. Young people aren’t going to tune in to watch John McCain’s 7 millionth appearance in a Sunday show. Meet The Press could attract more viewers if the offered a diverse guest list. Hispanics and African-Americans are virtually invisible on the show. Women are usually banished to the roundtable segments and are mostly members of the media.
Better guest booking would only solve part of the problem. The biggest issue that Meet The Press has is David Gregory. The current host isn’t interesting. He doesn’t appear to be well informed. Unlike when Tim Russert was leading the show, the interviews are rarely sharp and challenging. NBC’s dream of restoring Meet The Press to its former glory will probably have to involve getting rid of Gregory.
The tinkering with the format of a struggling show is always the first step before major changes are made. NBC will try to make some changes to guests and/or style of the show, but if ratings don’t pick up, it will be Gregory’s head on the chopping block. David Gregory was always an odd choice to host Meet The Press. He is a bland personality who appears to be more interested in pushing the Beltway Republican agenda than challenging newsmakers.
Under Gregory, Meet The Press is just another dull Sunday show that is overloaded with Republican guests. In December 2013, it was reported that NBC was considering ditching David Gregory, and replacing him with the Morning Joe crew from MSNBC.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and David Gregory could soon be out as the host of Meet The Press.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association