On Monday, NBC denied a Washington Post report that claimed the network brought in a “psychological consultant” to gain greater insight into the mindset of “Meet the Press” host David Gregory as his ratings are slipping.
The Washington Post article, which was written by Paul Farhi, focused on how Nielsen numbers for “Meet The Press” have dropped behind both CBS’ “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” By far, the most eye-opening portion of Farhi’s report was the claim that, about a year ago, NBC commissioned the “psychological consultant” to “interview” Gregory, his friends, “and even his wife,” a move some at the network found “odd.”
NBC spokeswoman Meghan Pianta challenged Farhi’s characterization of the consultant as “psychological” and said the network brought in a “brand consultant” as part of a rather routine review.
“Last year ‘Meet the Press’ brought in a brand consultant — not, as reported, a psychological one — to better understand how its anchor connects,” Pianta said in a statement emailed to Business Insider. “This is certainly not unusual for any television program, especially one that’s driven so heavily by one person.”
Pianta said Elastic Strategy was the company NBC brought in to consult on “Meet The Press.” Elastic Strategy’s website describes it as a New York-based “brand strategy consultancy that works together with you to create the specific strategy to guide your brand, enhance its value to its stakeholders, and increase your bottom line.”
The network’s hiring of Elastic came close to a year ago, around the same time it named Rob Yarin as the new senior executive producer of “Meet the Press.” In an email, Farhi told Politico’s Hadas Gold he checked with NBC twice on Sunday about describing the consultant as “psychological” and the network did not have any immediate objection.
Gregory’s role as “Meet the Press” host has been the subject of intense speculation as the show’s ratings have sagged. The network has repeatedly stood behind Gregory. Last month, NBC News senior vice president Alex Wallace told The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone the network was “doubling down” on the anchor.
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