Left, NBC political director Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press"...

Left, NBC political director Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" in Washington on Sept. 1, 2013; David Gregory on "Meet the Press" in Washington on Feb. 24, 2013. Credit: AP / NBC

Capping weeks of speculation, NBC News Thursday announced that David Gregory was leaving the network after 19 years, with Chuck Todd replacing him as host of the venerable Sunday-morning news program "Meet the Press."

"I want to express my sincerest thanks to David, who, after the death of Tim Russert, led 'Meet the Press' for almost 6 years," NBC News president Deborah Turness said in a memo to employees obtained by Newsday. "Under his leadership the show has had a string of exclusives, and David has shown a remarkable gift for holding leaders to account and getting answers on issues that matter to our audience." Turness called him "an outstanding journalist."

The change is immediate, with Andrea Mitchell to serve as moderator this weekend, preceding Todd's Sept. 7 debut, Turness said.

Gregory appeared to have presaged the announcement when he tweeted earlier in the day, "I leave NBC as I came -- humbled and grateful. I love journalism and serving as moderator of MTP was the highest honor there is. I have great respect for my colleagues at NBC News and wish them all well. To the viewers, I say thank you."

Todd will continue as NBC News political director, though he will step down as the network's chief White House correspondent and as anchor of MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown," Turness said, adding "Meet the Press" would "evolve and update."

During Gregory's tenure "Meet the Press" dropped from first place to third in the Sunday talk-show ratings race. "Meet the Press," which premiered in 1947, is the longest-running network show on TV.

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