Sunday Morning Competitors Rib, Praise Gregory

Dec 7, 2008  •  Post A Comment

No sooner was David Gregory named the new moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning than the competition began, albeit graciously and with good humor.
“I wish him the best but not the very best. He knows exactly how I mean that,” said Bob Schieffer, moderator of CBS’ “Face the Nation” since 1991. “NBC has picked a very formidable competitor and I will immediately begin trying to beat his brains out, because that’s what we do.”
Mr. Schieffer said Mr. Gregory possesses the traits required for the Sunday morning newsmaker shows, which are driven by booking the most relevant and powerful guests and prying out comments from them that move the key stories of the week forward.
“He asks good questions and he’s a serious journalist,” Mr. Schieffer said. “I don’t want to get too corny here, but Sunday morning television is really different than any other time period on television. These programs are information-driven. These programs are judged not so much by cute questions or show-off anchors. They’re judged by the kind of answers we get.”
George Stephanopoulos, moderator of ABC’s “This Week” since 2002, posted a David Letterman-worthy list of “10 Things David Gregory Needs to Know” on ABCNews.com Sunday morning.
10. Monday night is the new Saturday.
9. “Saturday Night Live” is a pretty cool wake-up call.
8. Dennis Kucinich is a biter.
7. You’ll never have to anchor another car chase—ever.
6. No more O.J. stories, either.
5. Remember to wink at the camera when you say “stimulus package.”
4. Never let Chuck Todd drive you to work.
3. Don’t sit Doris Kearns Goodwin next to David Broder. Long story.
2. Rapping with Karl Rove is a guaranteed bump during sweeps.
1. Most important, don’t forget we move our clocks back next Sunday.
Mr. Stephanopoulos ended with: “Seriously, David, you’re about to get one of the best jobs in journalism. Good luck (but not too much).”
Chris Wallace was celebrating his fifth anniversary as moderator of “Fox News Sunday” and noted that he will have that in common with Mr. Gregory on Dec. 7. “This is a much happier way to remember it” than as Pearl Harbor Day, he said.
Mr. Wallace said he expects the Sunday morning newsmaker shows’ audience to do some sampling while Mr. Gregory is settling in at “Meet the Press.” However, likening the shows to ocean liners that are slow to turn, he said, “I wouldn’t expect anything to change in a hurry.”
“He’s a good guy. He’s a first-rate broadcaster,” Mr. Wallace said.
Still, “This is really the start of the post-Russert era. I think that Tom’s very generous act in stepping in for several months postponed it, because he’s as much of an icon as Tim was. Now, it creates a much more level playing field,” Mr. Wallace added.
“This Week” has taken second place in the close battle with “Face the Nation” for second in the broadcast ratings on Sunday morning. However, Mr. Wallace said the broadcast audience for “Fox News Sunday” plus the viewership for the encore on Fox News Channel add up to about 3 million viewers each week, which he believes puts him in contention for second as well.
Indeed, in the Washington market, during the November sweeps, Nielsen Media Research data showed that “Meet the Press” with Mr. Brokaw led easily with an average 5.3 rating points, while “Face the Nation” averaged 2.6 ratings points, “Fox News Sunday” averaged 2.5 and “This Week” averaged 2.0.


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