Russert was also a decent man, as so many warm eulogies across the ideological divide attested. I had a chance to meet him a few times as an intern in the videotape library of the Washington political unit at NBC News in 1992. He was always friendly and engaging. (Andrea Mitchell was a whole ‘nother story. Gah.) Before I left to work for the Los Angeles Daily News, I drafted a little memo on suggestions to improve data collection and entry. I never expected acknowledgment. But Russert took the time to respond and thank me. A lowly intern. I never forgot that.
Gregory is the anti-Russert. His boorish behavior around D.C. is legendary — from his juvenile tantrums with the Bush press staff to his drunken radio appearances to his diva snit fits with innocent bystanders while filming news segments. One of the most telling and notorious anecdotes involves Russert himself, who reportedly reprimanded Gregory in 2008 for going ballistic on a poor waitress while the two TV stars dined at a D.C. restaurant. But “Gregory still treats most of … the newsroom like s**t,” an insider told the website Jossip. “Amazing how NBC cares more about food servers than about the people who have to deal with Gregory’s arrogance every day.”
Since Gregory doesn’t have the intellectual heft to carry in-depth interview segments the way Russert did, “Meet the Press” producers have reduced substantive exchanges to a few minutes and larded the rest of the show with fluff and stunts.