I've always thought entrenched left-wing journalists in Washington needed their heads examined. Much to my satisfaction, it appears the corporate media bosses of at least one Beltway anchor now agree.
According to The Washington Post this week, NBC News hired a "psychological consultant" to examine why flailing "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory has been bombing in the ratings. The overpriced shrinks (NBC prefers the euphemism "brand consultants") came from the New York-based brand fixer-upper Elastic Strategy.
They interviewed Gregory's wife. They interrogated his friends. They crunched their numbers. They compiled their reports. And after all that, the "experts" are still scratching their noggins:
What's the matter with David Gregory? And why don't people like to watch him?
I could have saved the honchos at NBC News a lot of time and trouble. The first answer is: David Gregory is a phony. The second answer is: He's a jerk.
And no amount of brand therapy and rehabilitation consulting can fix him.
Gregory's predecessor, Tim Russert, was highly respected on both sides of the political aisle. The former chief of staff for iconoclastic U.S. Sen. Daniel Moynihan turned "Meet the Press" into mandatory viewing for any American serious about politics and policy. Yes, he was liberal. But he never pretended to be anything he wasn't. He did his homework. He didn't pull punches. He helped enlighten the nation about our entitlement crisis. He conducted interviews, not one-sided partisan lectures.
Russert was also a decent man, as so many warm eulogies across the ideological divide attested. I had a chance to meet him a few times as an intern in the videotape library of the Washington political unit at NBC News in 1992. He was always friendly and engaging. (Andrea Mitchell was a whole 'nother story. Gah.) Before I left to work for the Los Angeles Daily News, I drafted a little memo on suggestions to improve data collection and entry. I never expected acknowledgment. But Russert took the time to respond and thank me. A lowly intern. I never forgot that.