Where There’s Smoke…

Yes, it’s another “David Gregory’s Meet The Press days are numbered” article but this one is different because it’s not Page Six or anyone connected with News Corp.’s New York Post. Even more significantly it’s The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove.

In multiple conversations that I had with people inside and outside NBC after the item appeared, it was taken as a given that Gregory is toast.

Why is it more significant because it’s Grove and not the curmudgeonly Page Six which loves to stick it to CNN and NBC/MSNBC? Because Grove, rightly or wrongly, is considered by many to be…ahem…friendly…to 30 Rock. Grove doesn’t write all that often about the goings on at NBC/MSNBC but when he does it’s not usually in…how shall I put it?…provocative tones. So to see Grove come forward with his own sourcing on Gregory being in trouble and then, on top of that, to start speculating about who leaked to The Post (!!!), something I have not seen him do before, and I had to snap to attention and read every little detail…

According to my sources, Scarborough, 51, a Washington-savvy former Republican congressman from Florida, and Brzezinski, 47, the supremely well-connected daughter of former White House national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, have been aggressively angling for the job in the event of Gregory’s all-but-certain demise. If they were to be picked as MTP cohosts, it would represent a complete departure from the 69-year-old program’s traditional format. On Thursday, Scarborough tweeted: “There have been numerous stories with NBC News sources saying Mika and I have been ‘aggressively angling’ for MTP. That is false.” There might be a difference in nuance, of course, between “aggressively angling” and “making no secret” that you want the job, as an informed source told me about Scarborough and Brzezinski.

An NBC insider told me the duo had believed they had an understanding with top news division executives that they would be named cohosts of the Sunday Today show in addition to their Morning Joe duties. Then Turness arrived at NBC from Britain’s ITV News in August 2013 and undid the agreement, I’m told. “They were furious,” my source told me, referring to Scarborough and Brzezinski.

Does this mean that Gregory is indeed in serious trouble? It’s hard to say. NBC did come out publicly with a big backing of Gregory not too long ago. But that isn’t necessarily indicative of anything definitive. Recall that when Ann Curry was rumored to be on the outs at The Today Show, there were conflicting views inside NBC on what to do with some factions advocating dropping her and others looking to keep her. That may be what’s playing out right now with elements at NBC wanting to stay the course and others looking to make a change.

One thing is certain, this story isn’t just a Page Six pushed story anymore. It’s gone mainstream. And that is something I find very significant. What it’s significance ultimately portends is not yet clear however.


39 Responses to “Where There’s Smoke…”

  1. Smoke? I think Stretch is Burning Man.

  2. Interesting article on the Gregory/MTP story. I can’t imagine anyone is seriously considering replacing Gregory with Joe and Mika. Their shtick mostly works on MJ but MTP is a totally different show. Morning shows can tolerate large egos and mindless chatter but MTP requires a knowledgeable and respected host who can ask tough questions. It would be like replacing Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday with Steve Doocy and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Joe and Mika just aren’t qualified.

    Two other bits from the Grove piece also struck me as prescient. First: There is no love lost between Chuck and Joe. I’ve felt that since MJ began running long, on purpose, just to show Todd who was boss.

    Second: The Post “sources” might just be someone from the Joe & Mika. Yeah think!

  3. If Joe and Mika took over MTP would be a totally different animal than what it currently is.

  4. joeremi Says:

    It’s very difficult for me to imagine Joe and Mika as hosts, but I guess the case could be made that the MTP we knew and loved was Tim Russert’s show, and any effort to replicate it with a new host is doomed to fail. Which then leads to NBC deciding Joe and Mika are pretty good interviewers if you drop all the weird chit-chat they do, and a very different MTP might work with them in it.

    I remain hugely skeptical, but if you watch either of those two when the other is off, you can maybe see the ‘less Joe-and-Mika-ish’ Joe and Mika they envision.

  5. “I guess the case could be made that the MTP we knew and loved was Tim Russert’s show, and any effort to replicate it with a new host is doomed to fail.”

    ^^There have been 8-10 hosts on MTP other than Russert and Gregory and the format has changed a number of times. Some worked and some didn’t.

    A host with Todd’s gravitas (I think Russert’s reputation has been enhanced since his death) could do well in the right format. He’s respected by both Republicans and Democrats as a tough but fair questioner. Yes you could poach someone like Tapper or Garrett but why bother when you have their equal already with the network. It would only tell Todd and other qualified hosts at NBC they weren’t up to scratch.

  6. joeremi Says:

    The Joe & Mika plan also gets around the nauseating amount of whining about who’s left and who’s right in this discussion. When I last checked the comments in the Daily Beast article they were up to 400, mostly about how this or that person is out because they have some imagined bias based on not thinking and talking exactly like the author of the comment. We’ve all become incredibly STUPID.

  7. joeremi Says:

    I’m 52-years-old..I’m well aware of Meet The Press before Russert hosted it. The fact is the show became indelibly linked to Tim Russert, and his format with another host just reminds people that no one is Tim Russert. Better to shake up the whole thing.

  8. Lawrence Spivak would be rolling in his grave if Joe and Mika hosted the show, but he wasn’t very acrobatic even when alive.

  9. If Maddow could play it down the middle she’d be great, but no, she doesn’t have the gears to shift.

  10. savefarris Says:

    If Maddow could play it down the middle…

    If bears could spit fire …

  11. I don’t like any of the options that have been mentioned. Todd is too liberal. Joe & Mika are too Joe & Mika. They’re perfect for a cable news morning show.

    It would be the typical NBC move to give it to Todd. He’s “next in line” and he comes from the correct side of the ideological spectrum. And, people would continue to not watch.

  12. LynnLGM Says:

    Not sure what Rachel Maddow has to do with anything. It’ll be a cold day somewhere before she would be given the slightest consideration. No network would have a blatant partisan like her, hosting a show like that, any more than they would Laura Ingraham. Tapper would be great. That will also never happen, but for different reasons.

  13. LynnLGM Says:

    Joe and Mika are great on that show, with its fervently small following. Turning Meet The Press into a koffee klatch ain’t gonna happen.

  14. joeremi Says:

    I presume the bigger stumbling block at NBC for Joe and Mika is that relationship going mainstream on network television. Nobody is talking, but Scarborough is divorced now, and I think their ongoing flirtfest would become a distraction for MTP.

  15. Regardless of potential dislike for anything FOX, lovers of the old Russert MTP should give FOX NEWS SUNDAY a look if the haven’t done so. Here’s today’s nice MEDIAITE review:

    “Sunday show watchers have a bad case of Russert withdrawal, pining for the iconic Meet the Press host as network successors David Gregory and George Stephanopoulos conduct truncated, superficial interviews that let slippery politicians get away with murder. The only Sunday host who comes close to the desired type of sustained interrogation is Chris Wallace, who’ll happily devote 15 minutes to debating the actual policy implications of Obamacare with Ezekiel Emanuel one week while holding tea partiers’ feet to the fire over self-destructive electoral tactics the next.

    While the panel could be spruced up with fewer Fox News regulars and more straight-up reporters like AP’s Julie Pace, FNS really earns its admission with Wallace’s focused and persistent questioning. It’s not rewarded, sadly — FNS regularly finishes last behind the nets in the Sunday show ratings race.” – Evan McMurry

  16. “No network would have a blatant partisan like her, hosting a show like that”
    Two words:
    1) George
    2) {you’ll just have to guess}

  17. joeremi Says:

    It’s a nice review, but Evan may wonder why it’s in an article about cable news. Chris Wallace hosts a broadcast network Sunday show.

  18. thought occurred to me too.

  19. The fact the show is repeated twice on FNC is a mitigating factor, but not a compelling one.

  20. paminwi Says:

    I find the words JS used in a tweet about this issue: …….”aggressively angling” for MTP.

    How about Joe just saying to the honchos at NBC – “you want me, you got me – or I am available if needed”. No aggression at all needed.

  21. I used to like Tim’s MSNBC show even if he did steal Charlie Rose’s set.

  22. LynnLGM Says:

    As I mistakenly said elsewhere, Steffie hasn’t done a nakedly partisan show, which kinda makes him no different than any other member of the press. They all lean left, in our humble opinions, but they haven’t shown it as vociferously as Maddow.

  23. joeremi Says:

    Maddow has no shot at MTP, and I still think they should put Tamron Hall in there, but that’s not gonna happen, either.

    As for Chuck Todd, I just don’t see the point. He’s not significantly different or better than David Gregory in any way, so why bother with the swap?

  24. LynnLGM Says:

    Besides, Clinton couldn’t get elected today, based on most of the stuff he did.

  25. Besides, Clinton couldn’t get elected today, based on most of the stuff he did.

    Nooo. Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones in the Twitter age would have sunk that boy long before he got to November.

    I can’t get into the George Stephanopoulos debate because I have a long-standing issue with political strategists dabbling in journalism. George should not be an anchor; Roger Ailes should not be running a news channel.

  26. ^ Perhaps, but I was referring to the laws that he signed. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, NAFTA, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Cap Gains cut..I’m forgetting a couple. And I specifically said “today”, so the affairs wouldn’t really apply. This guy named ‘Bill Clinton’ cleared the way on that…

  27. Defense of Marriage Act..

  28. Might get elected as a Republican today if he became born again begging for forgiveness. We are a forgiving lot if sensing sincerity. Clinton can fake that with the best of ’em.

  29. “As for Chuck Todd, I just don’t see the point. He’s not significantly different or better than David Gregory in any way, so why bother with the swap?”

    Exactly. But, that’s such an NBC thing to do. MTP flat out sucks these days. Everything about it. Swapping Gregory for Todd will change nothing.

  30. Many of us remember his welfare reform work with the Republican Congress.

  31. So Stephanopolous is practically a neocon.

  32. savefarris Says:

    As for Chuck Todd, I just don’t see the point. He’s not significantly different or better than David Gregory in any way

    To Chuck’s credit, he hasn’t (that I’m aware of) commited a gun crime on live television.

    Besides, Clinton couldn’t get elected today

    Well, we’ll find out in 2 years, won’t we?

  33. So…Mediaite has the 12 best shows on cable news and they miss Special Report with Bret Bair?


    Even liberal Joe Klein says it is a good show.

    “Such is the abject state of CNN that he recommended a surprising source: “I miss being able to turn on a straight newscast, and it turns out the only place you can go to get one at 6 o’clock at night is Fox,” he said, referring to Special Report with Bret Baier, drawing some laughter and disapproving murmurs from the Manhattan crowd.”


  34. I don’t watch Special Report much… but I agree it should have been on that list, One FNC’s best shows , it’s why MSNBC has changed shows in that slots tons of times.
    Meet the Press needs to pick someone who knows politics , doesn’t show an advert bias , will hold ANY politicians (R,D,Whatever ) accountable for their words and actions

  35. Steve Lawlor Says:

    This is NBC. We’re talking about an organization who believes Ronan Farrow is the next great American journalist. It’s obvious that Luke Russert will be the replacement. He will be marketed as the son who assumes the throne and continues the grand traditions established by his late father. Its always about ratings.

  36. “that Luke Russert will be the replacement.”

    ^^I agree that someday Luke Russert will host MTP. That day is many years, if not decades, away. His career is just starting.

  37. NO WAY! Luke Russert will never be the host of Meet The Press. Never. He has 1/20th the political accumen and 1/30th the gravitas his father had. David Gregory makes for a better host. There is a reason why you almost never see Luke on NBC. The guy still has too much “Frat Boy” in him…

  38. joeremi Says:

    I guess anything is possible in whatever TV/internet landscape MTP inhabits in 20-30 years, but no, there is no chance Luke Russert gets that show any time in this generation.

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