Today was to mark David Gregory’s last appearance as host of Meet the Press. But NBC did not permit Gregory, who will be replaced by Chuck Todd, to bid his audience farewell. Instead, Andrea Mitchell hosted the show and paid tribute to the fired host.
Why did NBC sack Gregory? The most obvious explanation is the sagging ratings of Meet the Press. Moreover, and here I rely Scott, the low ratings were well-earned.
But Meet the Press has suffered from poor ratings for quite some time. And the quality of the program, or lack thereof, presumably has been constant.
Thus, there is reason to entertain the explanation of Gregory’s firing offered by two friends on mine. They suspect that Gregory’s firing was prompted by complaints that his coverage of the war in Gaza was too pro-Israel.
It seems that Gregory was criticized by Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, for showing video of missiles allegedly being fired from a U.N. School in Gaza. The video was released by the Israeli government.
Before showing the video to Gunness, Gregory stated “the Israelis say…that [the video] purports to show rockets being fired from a UN school; is this accurate?” And later in the show, Gregory said that, according to the U.N., the video does not show rockets being fired from a school. He concluded that “this is a back and forth we are not able to settle at this point.”
Seems fair and balanced to me.
Nonetheless, the anti-Israel left castigated Gregory for allegedly spreading “Israeli propaganda.” Some examples can be found here, here, and here. Gregory seems to have become particularly unpopular at the Daily Kos.
To claim that Gregory is an Israeli propagandist is laughable. In an interview with Benjamin Netanyahu, Gregory asked the Prime Minister about Israeli “targeting of a U.N. school that [resulted in] killing children” even though the U.N. says the school had been clearly marked and Israel knew its GPS coordinates.
Whatever Gregory’s other faults, it seems clear that when it came to Gaza, Gregory was trying to ask tough questions of both sides. In doing so, he invited the antagonists to respond to the allegations of each other. That used to be known as good journalism.
Did Gregory lose his job because his coverage of Gaza alienated the left? I don’t know. It’s clear that Gregory’s job was in some jeopardy before war broke out in Gaza. Last year, NBC reportedly commissioned a psychologist to interview his wife and his friends. And even on NBC News, it’s difficult to survive poor ratings indefinitely.
Even so, we shouldn’t lightly dismiss the possibility that Gregory’s Gaza coverage, which alienated NBC’s left-wing “base” audience, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.