David Gregory: Reports of psychological consultant ‘complete fiction’

WASHINGTON — Claims that NBC hired a psychological consultant to interview people close to “Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory are “complete fiction,” the journalist said on WTOP Friday — the first time he has publicly addressed the reports.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post published a story saying the network hired a psychological consultant to interview Gregory’s friends and his wife as a way to assess the moderator following the program’s slumping ratings.

Network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta told The Post the aim was “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.”

“It’s a complete fiction, there was never any psychological consultant hired. That’s utter fiction, that’s gossip reporting gone wild,” he said during his weekly appearance on WTOP Friday.

Gregory, 43, said a marketing strategist worked with “Meet the Press” to help develop the program’s branding. Part of the discussion involved the strategist speaking to people around Gregory about his and the program’s strengths.

Other NBC programs have undergone similar marketing and branding discussions, Gregory said.

“The idea about psychological counseling or psychological testing — it’s just complete fiction and has been kind of a runaway train,” Gregory said.

NBC’s “Meet the Press” is No. 3 in the ratings for the Sunday morning political talk shows. The leader is CBS’ “Face the Nation,” hosted by Bob Schieffer followed by ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” according to The Post. “Fox News Sunday” ranks No. 4, The Post adds.

As rumors may swirl about Gregory’s longevity at “Meet the Press” and the ratings in the post-Tim Russert hey-day, Gregory says he is proud of the program.

“I love doing this program, this is a wonderful program and we have such wonderful support of viewers particularly here in Washington, D.C. and we are just going to continue that and stay on plan.”

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