Since When Has Insanity Been Disqualifying in the TV Business? —Troy Senik

 

NBC is apparently concerned that David Gregory is insane. Which is a sign that NBC might not be.

Paul Farhi has a new piece up at the Washington Post examining the ratings wars for Sunday morning political talk shows (it’s a lot like the late night wars, except that normal people actually get news from late-night comedians). 

NBC, he explains, has a problem. Ever since the death of the (rightly) lionized Tim Russert, Meet the Press has been in the hands of David Gregory, a stock character from an ’80s teen movie (he’s the bumptious guy who tries to steal the protagonist’s girlfriend, only to get his comeuppance when he’s humiliated in front of the entire high school.)

Unsurprisingly, Gregory’s cod liver oil personality hasn’t exactly led to a ratings bonanza. Meet the Press has now fallen to third in Sunday show ratings, behind CBS’s Face the Nation (hosted by the reanimated corpse of Bob Schieffer) and ABC’s This Week (hosted by George Stephanopoulos three weeks a year and whoever’s in the ABC break room the rest of the time).

It’s not out of the ordinary for such performance failures to generate corporate anxiety. It is, however, probably unusual for them to take the turn they have at NBC:

Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.

I think we’ve all been there. Your workplace performance slips a little and, next thing you know, you come home to a shrink trying to get your wife to handicap the probability that you’ll hurl a live grenade into a Lady Foot Locker. It’s a story as old as humanity itself.

You don’t need a “consultant” (truly America’s most elastic job title) to unearth the problem here. Gregory is a smug, self-satisfied narcissist; the kind of person who’s more interested in hearing himself ask the question than bothering to listen to the answer. He’s Piers Morgan without the patina of credibility that comes with a British accent. Is that really someone you want in your home for Sunday breakfast?

Ricochet is home to an audience that’s highly politically literate. How many of you even watch one of the Sunday shows? Is there anything that could get you to tune in? What do you look for in someone tasked with conducting serious political interviews? Who do you think does it best?

 

There are 42 comments.

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  1. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    The late night comedians are much funnier than the Sunday morning ones.

    • #1
  2. raycon and lindacon Inactive
    raycon and lindacon
    @rayconandlindacon

    We did watch Chris Wallace for a while… before we dumped the cable service and went wall to wall Ricochet and links for our political insights. 

    Newton Minow was right in 1961.  Television is a vast wasteland.

    • #2
  3. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    I’ve never really cared for the Sunday shows, I’ve always felt they were mostly just places for politicians to either talk about their own “great” ideas or simply bad mouth their enemies (John McCain’s ubiquity on them does nothing to assuage me from this impression.)

    There isn’t really anyone I’d count on to be a straight enough shooter, or a skilled enough interviewer, at any of the big three to make me interested in watching them at this point either, so maybe we’re better off with the shows going the way of the dinosaur.

    • #3
  4. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    I watch Meet the Press out of force of habit from the Tim Russert days, while I do kitchen chores. Sometimes DGregory asks some questions that surprise me, and I wonder how those questions got by the producers, more than once he has thrown a dart at Obama. Maybe they think he is crazy for some of the questions he asks? (not that he LISTENS to the answers.) Anymore that show is weekly medication that reinforces my decision not to watch any news during the week. I mostly watch to hear the topics on THEIR agenda, which is almost always liberal claptrap. Gotta listen to the point of view of the enemy. Anyone with a conservative POV is always outnumbered in the roundtable, a token & belittled  conservative spokesman. Almost every week I slap myself for wasting my time watching it.

    • #4
  5. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Maybe DGregory is a closet Conservative?  :)   [jk]

    • #5
  6. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    I remember watching his Gregory’s ad campaign on CNBC Europe. It went something like: “to keep pushing, to get real answers….”  And the b-roll is of him pitching batting practice to Hillary.

    Ah, here it is. Guaranteed emetic.

    • #6
  7. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Maybe it’s the British way. Deborah Turness, the President of NBC News, is a Brit who learned her trade at ITV. Her husband, another ITV veteran, John Toker, worked in the Cabinet Office as spokesman for security matters. Maybe he knows something about Gregory that we don’t.

    • #7
  8. user_989370 Inactive
    user_989370
    @MarkSchulman

    I watch Fox News Sunday most weeks, and like Chris Wallace a lot.  Austin Murrey is right that all the shows are mostly a place to hear the politicians yammer, but I think Wallace does as well with them as anyone could.

    • #8
  9. user_937199 Inactive
    user_937199
    @Chainsaw

    Hello All; Happy Monday !
    This post is just too funny! It just makes me laugh!
    Wow you talk about Media calling the “Kettle Black”!
    Guess they will start “Eating-their-own” soon?
    Thanks Chainsaw

    • #9
  10. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Off the top of my head, I can think of nothing that would get me to tune in to any television news program currently being broadcast.  I used to like watching Neal Cavuto, but I’m not going to pay for cable just to watch one show.

    • #10
  11. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Is there really anything to discuss?  We haven’t had a new or interesting argument in the country for what 90 years.

    There are no more Sherpa conservatives, trying to maintain some semblance of social cohesion that just doesn’t exist anymore.

    Why bother with a hollow and empty pantomime?

    • #11
  12. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    I think the psychological consultant should be analyzing the people who hired Gregory.

    • #12
  13. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    I haven’t watched an entire Sunday show for years.  I rely on Real Clear Politics to extract the highlights, but I rarely watch even them.

    Watching self-absorbed hosts ask self-absorbed politicians questions that they studiously do not ever answer is not edifying for a Sabbath morning (or anytime, for that matter).

    • #13
  14. user_2967 Inactive
    user_2967
    @MatthewGilley

    I’m usually at church so I miss the solons prattling on about the stuff I’ve been reading all week. And I just can’t get Gregory’s drunken appearance on Imus out of my mind.  http://youtu.be/w-BbjUSAD6w

    • #14
  15. The Mugwump Inactive
    The Mugwump
    @TheMugwump

    I might watch NBC from time to time if I had a TV.  I might be willing to own a TV again if someone is willing to purchase one for me.  And pay the monthly cable charge.  And come in once a month to dust the thing.

    • #15
  16. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    We watch Fox News Sunday at 2PM almost every week. I think he gives tough interviews, most of the time. I also enjoy the panel.

    • #16
  17. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    My wife and I listen to the “talking head shows” on CSPAN on Sunday mornings.  The ads are deleted, so it is a shorter than the TV shows.  Our morning walk ritual is to predict what the shows will cover or omit and what the spin would be.  Gregory is best for comic relief.  The best was after weeks of ignoring “Fast and Furious”, he was finally forced to bring it up and started by saying “For those of you who haven’t been following this closely …..”
    Fox with Chris Wallace consistently covers what we thought would be important for the week.

    By the time Candy Crowly comes on, we are  usually fed up.

    • #17
  18. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Ditched cable 4 years ago.  I don’t miss it.  I certainly don’t miss turning the “news” on, on a lazy Sunday morning, only to find it filled with knuckleheads like Gregory.  There’s very little going on in those shows that’s worth listening to – not all of them are horrible, 100% of the time, but it’s mostly a bitter danish.

    Sadly, Firing Line is no longer.

    • #18
  19. Butters Inactive
    Butters
    @CommodoreBTC

    they should hire Brian Lamb (or any of the CSPAN interviewers)

    • #19
  20. Kim K. Inactive
    Kim K.
    @KimK

    We’re in church and, anyway, why not take a day to give it all a rest.  If I really have to know what was said all the recaps are on NRO, but frankly I don’t even watch those. I’d rather read about it than have to listen to the preening and posturing, which even the guys I  agree with seem to do.

    • #20
  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Hugh Hewitt suggested hiring Russert’s kid, Luke. I think his reasoning is pretty good. The older demographic might watch because they liked Tim Russert and thought him fair (I agree with that assessment), and the younger demographic might watch because Luke Russert is young. 

    Doesn’t matter to me if NBC heeds Hewitt’s good advice or not, though. We’ll still DVR Christ Wallace and skip the rest.

    • #21
  22. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    Time for Ricochet to have a Sunday morning talk show. Let’s see first we’ll have to scrounge up a TV producer. Know anyone? Then we’ll have to get someone to bankroll it. There’s this Australian billionaire, I’ve heard tell about who owns this network who could slot the show in right after FoxNews Sunday. Then we need a panel of regular commentators…hmmm…Jonah G., VDH, Mr. Steyn, Mr.-Two-Hats-Long, Mr. Senik, Mr. Lileks or Peter as host…might have to have some of these folks participate remotely like Cavuto does with his crew. Then there could be regular returning guests with their own Andy Rooney-ish spot – John Podhoretz, Drew Claven, Denise, Jon G., Mr. Delingpole and who knows maybe a contribution from a Ricochet member from time to time – Jim Lakely and Ole Summers has written some pretty fine thought-provoking prose of late and PseudoD for commenting on the Pope, the Vatican and all things pertaining to Catholicism.

    I know it’s a crazy idea. But I have a feeling it would make for highly entertaining television. But what the heck do I know?

    • #22
  23. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    Just give me a “Created By…” credit and I’ll be happy. :-)

    • #23
  24. user_644842 Member
    user_644842
    @Saxonburg

    Used to watch NBC, but now I find it disgusting.   They include people like Rachel Maddow on the panel and pretend that David Brooks is the counter balance.   Sometimes I watch Chris Wallace on Fox, and I realize they usually have the liberals on the panel outnumbered, but they don’t include folks like Sean Hannity.

    • #24
  25. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    I still read print for my news; WSJ, IBD, National Review, Weekly Standard and I’m done. Let me emphasize IBD.

    • #25
  26. GKC Inactive
    GKC
    @GKC

    Troy, the opening lines and description here was laugh out loud funny and dead on. Used to watch the shows, and mostly MTP, but even toward the end of his time I felt Russert was going through the motions.  They all are largely unwatchable now. Little but canned talking points, rarely anything new or insightful. We are all better off at church with family.

    • #26
  27. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    Ann Althouse blogged on Gregory and she eviscerates him and NBC in a way that I can only dream of ever doing myself.

    • #27
  28. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    If by Sunday show you mean The Walking Dead, then let put my hand in the air…

    • #28
  29. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    Doug Saunders: Sometimes I watch Chris Wallace on Fox, and I realize they usually have the liberals on the panel outnumbered, but they don’t include folks like Sean Hannity.

     FNS usually has two conservatives/Republicans and two liberals/Democrats on. This past Sunday they had Brit Hume, a woman whose name I forget but who is the assistant managing editor of Time, Robert Cost of WaPo (formerly employed by NR), and Evan Bayh.

    Dennis Kucinnich had a contract with Fox for a while, but I haven’t seen him in some time. I actually really miss him. Sure, I don’t agree with about 90% of anything that he says, but I liked hearing his perspective.

    • #29
  30. user_142044 Thatcher
    user_142044
    @AmericanAbroad

    Thanks, Troy, for letting us know that Schieffer’s corpse was actually reanimated.  I couldn’t tell by watching his show.  I don’t mind Gregory all that much, and I agree with Julia PA: 

    Julia PA:

    I watch Meet the Press out of force of habit from the Tim Russert days, while I do kitchen chores. Sometimes DGregory asks some questions that surprise me, and I wonder how those questions got by the producers, more than once he has thrown a dart at Obama.

    • #30

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