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David Gregory on the Sunday Morning Battle: ‘We Fight Like Hell’ to be No. 1

GregoryAs NBC’s “Meet the Press” approaches 67 years on the air, its host for the last six says the show needs to shake things up to remain a part of the conversation.

In a profile in today‘s Washington Post, David Gregory says a new format with a faster pace, more taped pieces and shorter interviews “delivers on the core of what ‘Meet the Press’ is,” while widening the scope.

“I’m dedicated to building something that says we’re not just thinking about politics. We’re thinking about who the real influencers are in this country,” Gregory tells Paul Farhi. The show, once dominant on Sunday mornings, has fallen to second or third in both total viewers and the A25-54 demo.

“Do I want to be number one in the ratings? Every week I want to be number one, and we fight like hell to get there. And it’s tough right now. It’s a fight,” Gregory says.

Farhi also reveals the lengths NBC has gone to get to the core of the host:

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.

Following publication of The Post’s story, NBC News sent this statement clarifying the assessment: “Last year Meet the Press brought in a brand consultant — not, as reported, a psychological one — to better understand how its anchor connects. This is certainly not unusual for any television program, especially one that’s driven so heavily by one person.”

Gregory has time on his side. CBS’s Bob Schieffer, 77, may step away from the Sunday morning circuit in “another year or so,” he says, while ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, with his duties on “Good Morning America” already cedes many Sundays to fill-in hosts. Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace, who re-signed his contract last week, remains fourth nationally, but just last week had the No. 1 morning program in Washington, DC in the coveted news demo.

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