Ann Curry’s uncomfortable exit from Today was preceded by weeks of online rumors about her exit, much like those currently swirling around Meet the Press host David Gregory. However, while NBC never publicly defended Curry and even let several negative performance reviews run in major papers, executives are trying to nip the Gregory story in the bud, insisting that the show’s recent ratings losses aren’t his fault.
Meet the Press drew only 687,000 viewers ages 25 to 54 on the first Sunday in June, making it the show’s worst performance in that demographic since July of 1992. The show has also lost to Face the Nation eighteen times in the past season, compared to only three times in the 2010-20111 season.
This week, The Daily quoted insiders who said the ratings dip may mean Gregory is out, but NBC News has responded, “The rumors recklessly reported by The Daily are categorically untrue.” The network also accused CBS of “ratings gimmickry” since it only reports numbers from the highly rated first half of Face the Nation, not the recently added and less popular second half-hour. For now it seems NBC is trying not to repeat the mistakes it made during the Ann Curry debacle, but if the implausible rumor that Joe Scarborough will fill Tim Russert’s seat turns out to be true, expect Gregory to deliver another teary, awkward good-bye.