David Gregory set for 'Press'?

NBC News denies a decision has been made

NEW YORK -- NBC News denied Monday night that it was close to naming chief White House correspondent David Gregory as "Meet the Press" moderator.

The Huffington Post reported that Gregory would get the job.

"We have no announcement to make and we are not making an announcement tomorrow," an NBC News spokeswoman said Monday night .

The decision on the permanent replacement to the late Tim Russert is expected sometime this week, possibly on Sunday's "Meet the Press." Former "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw has been filling in as moderator since Russert's death in June.

Gregory joined NBC News in 1995. Well known for his battles with White House press secretaries in the Bush administration, Gregory has covered just about every major news story of the past 13 years and has subbed on "Today" and the weekend "Nightly News." He also served as a substitute "Meet the Press" moderator during the Russert era.

Most recently, Gregory has raised his profile on MSNBC. He anchored the 6 p.m. "Road to the White House" newscast nightly and, after August's implosion of the Chris Matthews/Keith Olbermann anchoring team, was the primary anchor for MSNBC's debate and election night coverage.

NBC was also reported to be considering NBC political director Chuck Todd, veteran correspondent Andrea Mitchell and PBS' Gwen Ifill, among others. There also is the possibility that there could be a rotating moderator, or the network might bring back its panelist format.

"Meet the Press" is the acknowledged leader among the Sunday public affairs shows. In the November sweep, "Meet the Press" under Brokaw remained the most-watched and top-rated of the shows by a comfortable margin despite the fact that ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" put in its best November sweep rating in eight years.

November was a heady time for the four public affairs shows, with Election Day and the economy of great interest to viewers. Yet the month looked like many other Novembers past: NBC on top by a wide margin, followed by ABC, CBS and Fox a distant fourth.

"Meet the Press" averaged 4.5 million viewers in November, compared to 3.5 million for "This Week," 3.1 million for CBS' "Face the Nation" and 1.5 million for "Fox News Sunday." It was the best viewership for the November sweep since 2004; in fact, all the Sunday shows were up double digits in viewership year over year.

Among adults 25-54, "Meet the Press" had a 1.3 rating compared with ABC's 1.0, CBS' 0.9 and Fox's 0.5, Nielsen Media Research said. NBC, ABC and CBS also have seen double-digit increases compared with last November in the adults 25-54 demo. Fox was up but only slightly.

But ABC's "This Week" has seen gains under Stephanopoulos. "This Week" received its best viewership and adults 25-54 since November 2000, two years before Stephanopoulos took over. There hasn't been a closing of the gap in viewership, but "This Week" has made progress in the demo. "This Week" also has beaten "Face the Nation" for three consecutive November sweeps and had the largest margin of viewership -- 410,000 -- in eight years.

"Face the Nation" had its best November ratings since 2005 in viewers and adults 25-54.
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