Following the death of NBC's Tim Russert, White House correspondent David Gregory was considered to be on the shortlist to succeed him on Meet The Press. Gregory is known for aggressively questioning White House officials and at one point so upset Bush press secretary Tony Snow that Snow accused him of partisanship, a remark for which Snow later apologized. While such assertiveness no doubt provided some cathartic release to critics of the administration, particularly those outraged at the feeble White House press corps, it may not be enough to get Gregory that Meet The Press gig or any other anchor job. In fact, the Observer today paints a rather grim picture of Gregory's immediate future, asking if he's a "lame duck" at the network, destined end up like — gasp — fellow White House troublemaker Sam Donaldson:
Halfway through his stint at the 6 p.m. hour on MSNBC, Mr. Gregory's numbers are solid but not remarkable. For the second quarter of 2008 (from late March to late June), Race for the White House averaged roughly 526,000 total viewers and 161,000 in the 25-54 demographic-roughly twice the audience that Tucker Carlson averaged during the second quarter of 2007.
Twice Tucker is a form of damnation by faint praise.
...over the past several months, the show has rarely made news.
The Observer said it doesn't help that Gregory's show relies on the network's own political contributors as talking heads instead of on actual newsmakers.
This results in a pogram so unmemorable that even NBC's Tom Brokaw screwed up its name, calling it Road To The White House, when ending an episode of Meet The Press. Brokaw also indicated the other NBCer on Meet The Press that morning, political director Chuck Todd, would be making frequent appearances "in the weeks to come" — a sign that Todd, also rumored to be in the running for Russert's job, was well ahead of Gregory.
Another of Gregory's competitors for Meet The Press, former far-right congressman Joe Scarborough, has received laudatory coverage in the Times and New York magazine lately for his MSNBC show Morning Joe, a far cry from the way the Observer is treating Gregory.
This all goes to show that sometimes being a hard-working, aggressive reporter is not always enough to advance in TV news. But don't count Gregory out yet — if this 2006 Tonight Show clip of Gregory imitating George W. Bush is any indication, the correspondent has a wide range of untapped skills.