In Depth

It's Official: Gregory to Host 'Meet the Press'

NBC News made it official Sunday: David Gregory will be the moderator who will intone “If it’s Sunday, it’s ‘Meet the Press,’” effective immediately.

Thus ended months of internal discussion and jockeying and gut checks and what-ifs at NBC News, which had been rattled to its soul by the heart attack that killed longtime “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert in June.

Now the widespread speculation that had extended far outside the political Beltway about who should inherit the most powerful of the Sunday morning political talk platforms will focus on how well Mr. Gregory holds up the ratings for “Meet the Press,” which often leads the competition by a million viewers.

NBC News President Steve Capus also announced Sunday that Betsy Fischer, the program's executive producer since 2002, has extended her tenure with the top-rated broadcast. She started with the show as an intern while still in college and then became the political researcher in 1992.

The baton was passed publicly on Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press” by Tom Brokaw, the former “Nightly News” anchor who had served as interim moderator, after Mr. Brokaw interviewed President-elect Barack Obama.

Mr. Brokaw reminded Mr. Gregory, who becomes only the 10th permanent host, that Mr. Russert had considered moderators of “Meet the Press” temporary custodians of a national treasure.

“This is an honor,” said Mr. Gregory. “You nurtured me in this business. Tim did. And I was in a unique place where I got to see two of the very best in journalism up close. I tried to learn a lot. I’ve thought a lot abut what it means to succeed somebody like Tim Russert. I’m not Tim, but along with this great team, I can just work real hard to make him proud.”

“Well, part of the deal is that you no longer can break up Washington parties by doing your drop-dead imitation of me,” Mr. Brokaw said.

During a conference call later Sunday with Mr. Gregory and Ms. Fischer—who attended American University together—Mr. Capus said the on- and off-camera pairing means there will be no ramp-up period for “Meet the Press” in its new iteration. They had been talking about the fact the change was announced one day short of what would have been Mr. Russert’s 17th anniversary as moderator.

Ms. Fischer said she expects no “drastic” changes to be made to tailor the show to Mr. Gregory, whom she said is like the late Mr, Russert and Mr. Brokaw in that they are all “exceptionally hard-working journalists.”

Mr. Capus said no permanent panel of questioners will be named, a possible format that been the subject of much speculation.

The NBC News president was quick to refute any sense that it had taken a long time to announce Mr. Gregory’s selection, if it had seemed such a natural. He pointed out that Mr. Russert’s death in mid-June was followed quickly by preparations for covering the Beijing Olympics, two national political conventions and the election. Moreover, he said, making a change like that on “Meet the Press” should not be considered during the election.

For his part, Mr. Gregory pronounced himself “humbled” and “very excited.”

He also was forgiving of those who confessed they had put their money on NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, whom he praised and promised would be making appearances on “Meet the Press.”

Mr. Gregory’s new role will include appearances on NBC’s “Today” show, some as substitute co-anchor, and as an analyst on sister cable channel MSNBC, where he has anchored a weekday political news hour that was renamed “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” after the election.

Mr. Gregory is a prolific correspondent who has covered three presidential campaigns since 2000 and was chief White House correspondent during much of outgoing President George W. Bush’s administration.

(12:40: Updated with material from conference call)