Former NBC Chief White House Correspondent and moderator of Meet the Press David Gregory continued his book tour, appearing with Yahoo’s Katie Couric on Tuesday and on Fox News Radio’s Kilmeade & Friends this morning. Gregory opened up about leaving NBC, his relationship with Chuck Todd and even Dan Rather’s comments about Brian Williams.
On leaving NBC’s Meet the Press:
Things we’re going poorly, there were a couple weeks of discussion where I knew I’d be leaving NBC, so there was some negotiation with NBC and I knew my last show would be coming up soon. We were going up to New Hampshire to get our kids from camp and we’re getting on the plane and I find out that NBC has decided that I won’t have another show and that they were going to sever this relationship right now so that was quite upsetting and surprising to me because I wanted as anyone would, have an opportunity to have a final show and say thank you to the audience and so forth and to my friends at NBC.
So, that was happening and I think the initial thing I think that I’d been battling with in my head was ‘how do you tell your kids you’ve lost your job?’ The next morning actually, after we picked them up, and we’ve gone through camp and I put everything out on twitter and dealt with these things, I hadn’t told my kids yet. I knew they were sealed off from the internet and we were driving to the airport the next morning and Matt Lauer called me and Matt had left me a message the day before and then he called me and was very nice and gracious to me and I got off the phone and my oldest son said, “who was that?” I said its Matt Lauer he said “well why is he calling you,” and I said well because I’m going to be leaving Meet The Press and I’m not going to be doing that anymore. My oldest son said “well do we have to sell the house?” And it’s a little funny because I said you know what son, we’re very lucky, we’ve been good with our money. My wife is a very successful lawyer and we’re at a very unique position for somebody who loses their job, we’re quite fine financially.
And then my daughter said did you get fired? And I paused with that because look, I didn’t do anything wrong and yeah I mean the truth is I actually wasn’t fired but it sure felt like I was fired and I thought I was going to be fired so that’s why I said it was time for me to go. But how do you tell a nine year old, you know explain the circumstance and I said it wasn’t quite like that but I made it very clear – they wanted someone else to do the job.
My youngest son said to me “dad did they make fun of you” and I said yes they did. I said kids, what I want you to know is you’ve seen one aspect of my job which is people know who I am, I’m on television, they want autographs and pictures, they’ll even stop me on the street and say “I love you” and I said well there’s another side to that: there’s criticism, and things don’t always work out how they planned and you have to have resilience. In a way I really embraced the opportunity to show my kids this message; that this kind of surreal world where they’ve seen me on TV and all of that, that there’s another side to that and that it doesn’t always work out. Yeah, it would be emotional for anybody but I actually embrace the opportunity to give them that lesson.
On whether Dan Rather’s comment on Brian Williams and NBC’s Public Relations department was accurate:
I’m not going to weigh in on Dan Rather’s criticism. I think that Brian knows what he did was wrong, that we don’t mess around in this business with our integrity or the truth. You know I have a wife who was in the army and a father in-law who was a nuclear submarine captain… you especially don’t mess around with tales of valor being with the military. I think Brian understands this and I also have compassion for him but you know I wouldn’t want his career which I think has been exemplary to be judged by just this mistake, so I kind of hold both of those views at the same time but as far as how he handled it, how NBC handled it – it’s just something I don’t think a lot about.
In my case when I was at Meet The Press when I was facing public scrutiny and when there were leaks about me, it was clear that they were coming from within NBC. I made it very clear that in politics, in Washington – if there’s blood in the water, you have to do something to sure up your person and I think that NBC proved to be incapable or unwilling of doing that in my case and as a result it was becoming too negative about me, it was getting in the way of what I wanted to do with the show and it was time for me to go. I think it’s important in these kinds of jobs that you get supported.
On if Chuck Todd reached out:
No – I haven’t talked to him.
On if he finds that odd:
I don’t make any judgment about it.
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