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It's official: David Gregory takes over 'Meet the Press'

December 7, 2008 |  7:26 am

David_gregory_kbipeync_300 “Meet the Press,” the predominant political forum on television, entered a new era today as the network confirmed that David Gregory will take the helm of the NBC program, six months after the death of longtime moderator Tim Russert.

“We lost a legend this summer, and today we hand the program over to someone who has a true appreciation and respect for the 'Meet the Press' legacy, and a keen sense of what it needs to be in the future,” NBC News President Steve Capus said in a statement released this morning.

Interim moderator Tom Brokaw is expected to welcome his predecessor on today's program.

The selection of Gregory, NBC’s chief White House correspondent, came as no surprise, having leaked out in the press days ago after weeks of speculation.

“I'm honored and deeply humbled as I take on this role," Gregory said in a statement. "I'm filled with a great sense of purpose as I join a superb team to cover Washington and the world from a treasured platform in our country. Above all, I want to make Tim proud."

NBC also announced that Betsy Fischer, who served as Russert’s executive producer, will continue in her role.

“It's an exciting next chapter in the long history of 'Meet the Press' and I, along with the rest of the staff, am eagerly looking forward to this new era," Fischer said. "Tim so often said one of the most important things for a good journalist to do is be prepared — and there is no doubt that David is prepared for this. Not only is he a huge talent, but his tremendous knowledge of Washington and his persistence for truth and accountability make him a natural fit to uphold the strong ideals of 'Meet the Press.' ”

The furious conjecture that preceded today’s news underscored the lasting potency of the program, the oldest on television. For six decades, “Meet the Press” has been a political mainstay, one of the preeminent platforms for elected officials and policymakers.

In addition to his new post, Gregory will be a regular contributor for "Today" and will continue to serve as a backup anchor for the broadcast. He will also continue as a regular contributor and analyst on MSNBC and report regularly for other NBC News broadcasts, including coverage of special events.

Gregory comes to the job with substantial political bona fides, having covered three presidential campaigns and the Bush White House, where he was known for his pugnacious questioning of press officials. But there’s no question that the 38-year-old faces a steep challenge in living up to the legacy of Russert, who moderated the program for 17 years, longer than anyone else. A larger-than-life figure inside NBC News, Russert’s zest for the job and prosecutorial style gave him a national profile.

“Tim left such a void there that there was no natural to step into that role,” said Garrick Utley, a former NBC anchor who preceded Russert in the post.

Network executives spent months pondering the dilemma, ultimately choosing Gregory from a short list that included NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, NBC political director Chuck Todd, PBS anchor Gwen Ifill and CBS anchor Katie Couric.

— Matea Gold

(Photo David Gregory courtesy AP Photo / Meet The Press)