What’s the matter with David Gregory?

David Gregory strikes me as the smarmiest liberal of the Sunday gabfests. He seems (to me) not even to know how to pretend to be fair. At least Tim Russert could fake it, as Bob Schieffer does now leading the pack on CBS.

Both Gregory and the Meet the Press panel that Gregory hosts drive me nuts. I have therefore taken a small amount of joy in the fall of the show to third place from first in the gabfest ratings. It’s a small amount because that leaves George Stephanopoulos in second place.

Gregory’s ordeal now comes under the protracted view of Washington Post media columnist Paul Farhi. Like NBC execs, Farhi is apparently without a clue. Farhi reports that the show’s ratings are in the midst of a three-year slide. What could be the cause? Now this is funny:

Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.

Here’s a thought. It’s the audience that needs to be assessed. Why does it turn away from Gregory? Maybe they’ve done the research on that, but Farhi doesn’t have the goods.

According to Farhi, NBC thinks that the remedy might be segments in smaller doses. If the idea is smaller doses of Gregory, they might be getting warm. Less Gregory just might be the ticket.

And then we have this account of the show’s move to various short segments from a longer interview format:

A new recorded feature called “Meeting America” in which reporter Kevin Tibbles looks at something happening outside Washington (in this case, a debate in Kentucky over the building of a Biblical theme park using tax subsidies); more roundtable discussion; and a photos-of-the-week feature called “Images to Remember.” The program closed with a short interview with New York Times reporter Jo Becker about her new book about gay marriage, “Forcing the Spring.”

Gregory says the new look “delivers on the core of what ‘Meet the Press’ is” but “widens the aperture . . .”

A question for Paul Farhi: Do you really want to quote Gregory on “widening the aperture” here? Are you sure that’s the metaphor you want to use in this context? Farhi shares a certain cluelessness with the subject of this particular column.

UPDATE: Our friend Ed Morrissey writes to probe that metaphor…a bit more deeply: “I had to laugh at his analogy. As any amateur photographer would know, widening the aperture lets more light in but at the expense of depth. If one wants to see more depth in a photograph, the aperture has to be narrowed. It’s practically the opposite of what Gregory intends.” Giving him the benefit of the doubt, however, Gregory may also have blundered into the truth. Ed has posted his take on Farhi’s column here.

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