The spring has not been kind to David Gregory, host of Meet The Press. Three weeks ago the Washington Post reported that NBC hired a Psychological consultant to interview his friends and his wife in an attempt to get insight from people who know him best and solve the falling ratings of his Sunday news program. Today’s news is the show’s long-standing producer, Chris Donovan, quit after a dozen years and the job and is going to work for ABC ‘s Sunday News program This Week.
According to the New York Post’s “Page Six” :
Donovan, who started at ABC last week, was fed up with embattled Gregory and the direction of “Meet the Press,” sources tell Page Six, which has sunk to third place in the ratings, behind CBS’ “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week.”
One source said, “There is a tense atmosphere at ‘Meet the Press.’ Gregory is dismissive of the staff, and is often hard to reach or approach.
“He is famously the only host on Sunday morning TV who won’t pick up the phone to seal the deal to get a big guest. There’s nobody else on TV, and certainly on Sunday mornings, who thinks they are too important to do that. It is tough on the producers.”
Another source insisted that well-respected Donovan left for ABC for an opportunity to work as a senior producer across George’s shows “This Week” and “GMA,” plus news specials.
Of course the public statements were all “love and flowers”:
Donovan said, “I had an incredible run at ‘Meet the Press,’ and left only because I was given an amazing opportunity at ABC News. Any suggestion that I was mistreated is not true. I have a great relationship with David.”
Gregory also told Page Six, “I think the world of Chris Donovan, and I know, having spoken to him today, that he did not say nor does he feel what is being attributed to him.
(…) NBC News President Deborah Turness also criticized the media “chatter” as “vindictive, personal and, above all, untrue.
Granted, when Gregory took over from Tim Russert he had huge shoes to fill. In his 17 years of moderating Meet the Press, the last ten as the top Sunday news program in the ratings, Russert proved himself to be an unbiased interviewer who was just as tough on all sides of the political spectrum.
Perhaps instead of trying to figure out Meet the Press slide from first to third in the ratings by talking to Gregory’s friends and family, or worrying about the producer, NBC would be much better served to work with their host and train him to be just as unbiased as his predecessor. That one change will make their program more appealing to a broader spectrum of political views resulting in an audience increase.