25 minutes. Using the technique that was Russert’s trademark,
he catches Summers—presently speaking with optimism about
the president’s economic plan—in a contradictory video, giving
a more pessimistic view of the federal debt picture just months
earlier. Then he asks Summers whether the recovery plan benefits Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.
Yet, within the context of the conversation, it all seems—to
borrow another network’s stock phrase—fair and balanced.
Especially when Gregory squares off with the conservative,
tax-bashing Armey during the same program, asking him to address a recent poll
that indicates Americans are actually very
satisfied with the current state of taxes.
“It’s the philosophy of Meet the Press,”
Gregory says. “Learn everything you
can about your guest, and then take the
As the old Talking Heads song goes,
Gregory sometimes wakes up and asks
himself “How did I get here?” He got the
job over a list of candidates that reportedly included NBC’s Andrea Mitchell,
CNN’s John King, CBS’ Katie Couric and
Gwen Ifill of PBS. Tom Brokaw served as
interim moderator after Russert’s death.
Not that Gregory arrived without the
chops, but he’s come to the table with a
reputation as a strong utility player—as
a sub on Weekend Today, Today, NBC Nightly News and even
the Imus in the Morning radio show—as opposed to a firmly
“Let’s face it: We all thought Tim was going to be there for
decades,” Gregory says. “When they were looking to fill the
job, I knew I had the experience and the desire to do it. But
I did want to remain low-key during the entire process, and
that’s what happened.”
NBC News President Steve Capus ultimately made the
decision, and says Gregory was the perfect choice because he
brought a wide range of strengths to the table: He had already
demonstrated a high degree of skill in doing live interviews
for NBC and MSNBC, and established himself as somewhat
of the dean of the White House correspondents. He also displayed a savvy for digital platforms outside of mainstream,
network broadcasts, which Capus also considered critical for
“David demonstrated a respect for the traditions of Meet
the Press, which was important,” Capus says. “But we also
wanted someone who could push the program into the future.
A number of the people we could have hired would have been
fine caretakers, but we didn’t want that. In our conversations
before he was hired, he spoke of putting
more of NBC’s news talent on the program
during the roundtables, which is something
we’ve done. And he’s a big proponent of
using alternative, digital media, such as
social networks. That was a big differen-
tiator for us. He sees this as a great way to
reach a new, younger audience for Meet the
Press, and we think that’s important.”
Gregory grew up with the entertainment side of show business, as opposed to
news. He was raised in a pleasant suburb
in the San Fernando Valley. His father,
Don, was a film and theater producer.
Gregory often went backstage to meet
actors such as Henry Fonda and Richard
Burton. And although he eventually realized that his father’s business could be a
tough one—filled with financial uncertainty and sharks in the ocean—it never
got to a point of desperation.
“I had a relatively normal childhood,” he says. “But I
knew darn well that my dad was in a rough business. I like to
joke that I escaped Hollywood so I could join the warm and
friendly business of network news.”
During college, at age 18, he landed a paid internship at
KGUN-TV in Tucson, Ariz. He ran teleprompters, rewrote
wire copy and performed other small, intern-worthy tasks.
But he also had enough chutzpah to pitch himself to his boss
as a Washington correspondent—because he attended
American University there.
“I told him I had access to camera crews,” he says. “Now,
they were really fellow students with cameras. My boss said,
‘Great!’ He hired me on. Eventually, I ran into the kinds of
TWITTER ME THIS
BECAUSE HE’S A TWITTER GUY, WE ASKED GREGORY TO TWEET ABOUT
THE FIVE NEWS STORIES TO WATCH FOR OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.
REMEMBER: NO MORE THAN 140 CHARACTERS ALLOWED.
The economy: Watch
out for what the new
economy is. What’s the
Pakistan: It’s the most
volatile region in the
world. Does the Tali-ban take it over? Will it
become a safe haven
Iran: It’s the biggest
“winner” with our war
over there. How will
it use its might in that
Healthcare: Is there a
new entitlement along
the way? Does the
government have the
ability to control costs?
Digital age: Where will
the new center of gravity
be for news? Can TV networks and newspapers
contain it? Because it’s
going to shift rapidly.