- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2008

David Gregory has been named moderator of NBC News‘ “Meet the Press,” the network announced Sunday, ending months of parlor games and insider speculation over the much-coveted position.

At any given time, a dozen high-profile names — from former CBS anchor Dan Rather to PBS newswoman Gwen Ifill to former ABC newsman Ted Koppel — were bandied about by observers and media analysts as replacements for the late Tim Russert, who was host of the show for 17 years before his death in June.

“We lost a legend this summer, and today we hand the program over to someone who has a true appreciation and respect for the ‘Meet the Press’ legacy and a keen sense of what it needs to be in the future,” NBC News President Steve Capus said.

Some insiders have said Mr. Gregory was too combative for the moderator role, citing moments when he had openly sparred with White House press secretaries during his tenure as NBC’s White House reporter in recent years. Others said his edge had been tempered by recent chatty, good-natured appearances on NBC’s “Today” show.

“I’m honored and deeply humbled as I take on this role,” Mr. Gregory said. “I’m filled with a great sense of purpose as I join a superb team to cover Washington and the world from a treasured platform in our country. Above all, I want to make Tim proud.”

Veteran NBC newsman Tom Brokaw has been interim moderator for almost six months.

“What I think is very exciting for you, and important to the country, is that everyone is paying attention now, in a way that I can’t remember since ‘68. We are in very, very difficult times,” Mr. Brokaw told Mr. Gregory as the program wound down on Sunday.

“I really encourage you to reach to your generation and get fresh new voices out there,” Mr. Brokaw added.

“David, you’re about to get one of the best jobs in journalism. Good luck (but not too much),” advised ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, host of Sunday-morning talk rival “This Week,” in a message to Mr. Gregory posted on his personal blog.

Mr. Stephanopoulos offered a list of the top 10 things Mr. Gregory should know as a newly minted moderator, warning him that “Dennis Kucinich is a biter,” and not to sit historian Doris Kearns Goodwin next to Washington Post writer David Broder.

“Long story,” Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

He also advised Mr. Gregory that “rapping with Karl Rove is a guaranteed bump during sweeps,” adding that covering car chases or stories about O.J. Simpson would be a thing of the past.

“Fox News Sunday” moderator Chris Wallace was more reserved, perhaps, in his reaction to Mr. Gregory’s appointment.

“I like David, I think he’s a very effective broadcaster. I think he’ll do well. But — and I think he’d be the first to admit it — he’s not Tom Brokaw and he’s not Tim Russert,” Mr. Wallace told TV Newser, a broadcast blog.

“And I think that some of the traditional ‘Meet the Press’ audience will shop around,” he added.

Premiering in 1947, “Meet the Press” is the nation’s longest running television show of any kind — and has won the ratings derby for Sunday-morning public affairs talk shows for the past 11 years.

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