Is the future of NBC’s Meet the Press uncertain? It’s ratings have been falling as reliably as an actor’s pants in a porn film and now, amid big cutbacks at NBC, some are wondering if the third-place show’s future could be in doubt. Mediaite:
As we head into 2014, the fate of the longest-running news program on television is starting to look uncertain. According to a new report from the New York Post’s Claire Atkinson, NBC News chief Deborah Turness is looking to make some major cutbacks at the network’s Washington D.C. bureau, where Meet The Press is produced.
Atkinson quotes one unnamed executive as saying, “Instead of getting better, NBC News has been getting worse [since Turness arrived earlier this year.] It’s a mess.” In October, the reporter cited rumors about Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski adding Meet The Press hosting duties to their already full 15 hours a week on MSNBC.
Meet The Press, which used to be the perennial first place finisher on Sunday mornings over ABC’s This Week and CBS’ Face The Nation, fell to a 21-year low over the summer and has been coming in third place behind those two show for much of 2013.
There are a couple of reasons why Meet the Press has been losing viewers. The main one is that David Gregory turned out to be the person to replace Tim Russert, who died suddenly and was in a class of his own — or, rather, the class of Walter Cronkite. Russert had a zeal for politics and reporting that bordered on joy, an aura of solid profesionalism, and he painstakingly did his homework. Gregory is a solid reporter.
But another reason why it’s had trouble is the competition. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos managed to make the jump from political mouthpiece to network news personality and he became a big and credible one. Meanwhile, on CBS, Face the Nation’s host is the man who should have replaced Cronkite on the CBS Evening News and who is a member of the old school Cronkite/Murrow reporting wing, quintessential Greatest Generation pro Bob Schieffer.
With a more aggressive ABC and with Face the Nation, hosted by powerhouse hosts, NBC faces stiffer competition than ever. And Gregory is not quite in the same class.
Replacing Russert with Gregory is like in the old series Betwitched when they replaced Dick York as Darin with Dick Sargent as Darin: the show continued but it was never the same and Sargent was no Dick York.
Ditto Russert, Gregory.
And so the erosion began with other networks taking advantage of it. To revive the franchise, NBC may have to look for a new host.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.