NBC News President Deborah Turness has come out in defense of "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, who came under scrutiny this week after the Sunday program slipped to third place in the ratings.
"There has been a great deal written about 'Meet the Press' in the past few days, much of it quite ludicrous," Turness wrote in a memo to the program's staff, which was obtained by Politico
. "I wanted to reach out to reiterate my support for the show and for David, now and into the future, as we work together to evolve the format."
Gregory has been criticized for failing to live up to the standards set by his predecessor, the late Tim Russert, who made "Meet the Press" No. 1 among the Sunday morning news shows.
"Meet the Press" is now third behind "Face the Nation" on CBS and "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on ABC.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Gregory said that he plans to fix the problems
with the show that have led to the falling ratings.
"David is at the helm of the changes and will lead you and the program on the journey ahead," Turness wrote.
The Post also reported that NBC had hired a psychologist to interview Gregory's friends and family members to get their take on the host "from people who know him best," a network spokeswoman said.
NBC later said that it had hired a "brand consultant,"
not a psychologist.
"NBC is proud to have David in the important anchor chair of 'Meet the Press,'" Turness said in the memo. "He is passionate about politics, and is committed to getting answers for our viewers on the issues that matter to them the most."
NBC News Senior Vice President Alex Wallace told The Huffington Post
in March that in spite of the show's low ratings, NBC was "doubling down" on Gregory.
"This whole digital brand is being built around his strengths," Wallace added.
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