In what has to be one of the more unusual moves to address a program’s falling ratings, NBC hired a psychological consultant to interview Meet the Press host David Gregory, as well as his wife and friends, according to a report  by The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi.
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.
Odd indeed, but I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.
Since Gregory took over for the late Tim Russert, Meet the Press has fallen to third place in the ratings among Sunday morning shows, and even hit a 21-year low in the key 25-54 demographic in August 2013.
Rumors have been swirling for months that NBC is looking to make a change, though no names have surfaced as potential successors.
What probably burns NBC just as much as watching the program slide from its decade-long run at number one under Russert is that the 43-year old Gregory is losing badly to the 77-year old Bob Schieffer, who hosts the top-rated Face the Nation on CBS.
I’m not sure what NBC thought they would really discover about Gregory from the consultant, but even if they understand him better and even if he is more in touch with himself, it hasn’t helped the show’s ratings, which is what really matters to the network.
UPDATE: An NBC News spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter  that the network hires a brand consultant, not a psychological one in an attempt to quell the media frenzy that resulted from The Washington Post story.