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NBC News president supports embattled David Gregory in memo

A drop in ratings at "Meet the Press"

A drop in ratings at "Meet the Press" prompted NBC to hire a "psychological consultant" to examine moderator David Gregory and his family last year, according to a new report in The Washington Post. (Credit: NBC / Rob Kim)

Poor "Meet the Press" host David Gregory: Either the wolves are circling or the vultures, but either way, he has had a very bad couple of weeks. So much so that NBC News chief Deborah Turness took the highly unusual, and vaguely ominous, step Thursday morning of releasing an internal memo to the press stating her unconditional support for Gregory, while labeling some of his recent press flack "ludicrous." Presumably she was referring to some typically scathing column by conservative pundit Michelle Malkin in this morning's New York Post that essentially accused Gregory of...well, of not being Timothy Russert. For shame, David, for shame. (Russert, who died in '08, was the longtime "MTP" host.)

The anti-Gregory backlash, such as it is, actually began at Politico, spread outward, and finally hit the Washington Post Monday with a story that reported that NBC had hired a "psychological consultant" to interview his family and friends. NBC said the Post was wrong -- it had actually hired a "brand consultant." Nevertheless, the Post has yet to retract the story.

Gregory's problems: the usual stuff. Poor ratings. "MTP" is solidly entrenched in third place -- a serious prestige and financial problem for television's oldest program. The anti-Gregory forces have used the situation to trot out old rumors about "Stretch" -- George W. Bush's nickname for him: That he's highhanded, arrogant, speaks French, is rude to waiters. All the sort of stuff that would be ignored entirely if his program was in first place. 

Here's what Turness said: 

"NBC News is proud to have David in the important anchor chair of 'Meet the Press,' " she wrote. "He is passionate about politics, and is committed to getting answers for our viewers on the issues that matter to them the most."

"'Meet the Press' has always been the must-stop place where news is made and critical conversations take place -- and we will continue that charge while at the same time adapting and innovating with new ideas on all platforms and connecting what's happening in Washington to Americans across the country. David is at the helm of these changes and will lead you and the program on the journey ahead."

Tags: David Gregory , Meet the Press , NBC News , Deborah Turness , Tim Russert

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