“Meet the Press” helped cement the nation’s idea of political roundtable discussions more than four decades ago. Since then, however, the pioneering NBC program has seen its ratings fall below both network competitors on Sunday morning – ABC’s “This Week” and “Face the Nation” on CBS.
The freefall in viewership hit such lows with current host David Gregory that the Peacock Network decided to take a drastic move.
Upon the close of 2013, the show was at its lowest level ever among the coveted 25-54 year-old demographic. According to recent reports, NBC has determined Gregory is at least part of the problem and began looking into ways to transform him into a more likable personality.
That process apparently included psychological testing not only for him, but for his immediate family.
The Washington Post indicated that Gregory’s wife and friends were interviewed by a psychological consultant last year. Despite the fact that the host has worked for the network for almost 20 years, NBC executives apparently felt this would give them an insight into his personality that they had heretofore been unable to ascertain.
As for Gregory, he is taking the high road publicly by asserting his loyalty to his employer and his desire to succeed as host of “Meet the Press.”
“I get it,” he said. “Do I want to be number one in the ratings? Every week I want to be number one, and we fight like hell to get there. And it’s tough right now. It’s a fight.”
Network sources indicated interviews for a potential replacement – such as correspondent Chuck Todd – were conducted with abysmal results. For that reason, one presumes, NBC is trying to salvage the current host, who succeeded Tim Russert after his death in 2008.
Another spokesperson, however, denied the consultant brought in last year was “a psychological one” and refuted claims “that any audience research has been done on an alternative host.”
In any case, Gregory said it is not his intention to replace Russert.
“I have nothing but respect and admiration for Tim and his legacy,” he explained. “And I’m doing my own thing, just like Tim did.”
Unlike Russert, however, Gregory continues to struggle to find a loyal audience. Consultants – psychological or otherwise – have a difficult task in attracting viewers to a format that has existed for generations, especially as an increasing number of innovative cable networks offer more choices than ever before.
Photo Credit: Facebook/David Gregory
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom