If it's Monday, it's NBC embarrassing itself in front of everyone. Today, the Washington Post's Paul Farhi brings us the story of a network that can't figure out why "Meet the Press" isn't the runaway ratings smash it used to be. (This is not the first piece of this year exploring that subject.) Is the problem host David Gregory? They sent in experts to figure it out:
Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.
Well, how absolutely humiliating, to have this reported in the Washington Post. (NBC disputes the use of the word "psychological," claiming they brought in a "brand consultant.")
Is there something psychologically wrong with David Gregory? No, besides the usual superhuman vanity of a television professional. He is just not a great host of a news talk show! He is incurious. He asks predictable questions and is not informed enough to ask follow-ups that go beyond the scope of his briefing materials.
And his guests are usually terrible! That is not strictly his fault (maybe NBC should psychologically evaluate its bookers?), though it doesn't seem like he'd suddenly become a better host with more interesting guests. I mean, he is just going to ask the same sorts of "David Brooks, what does this mean for Hillary 2016?" questions even if the person he is speaking to isn't actually David Brooks. He thinks like a shallow television political reporter, because that is ... what he is. His entire career has been on TV, and all a lifetime of being on TV teaches you is how to simulate gravitas, on TV.
David Gregory should still find some other kind of TV show to host (game show?), but he should know that "Meet the Press" isn't terrible solely because of him.