Bill Monroe, who died Feb. 17 at 90, was the consummate journalist. He had a long career, going back to his time in New Orleans writing editorials about civil rights. And as host of Meet the Press from 1975 to 1984, he was keenly interested in making news. When President Carter announced the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics, he did it on Meet the Press because he knew it was a good platform for leading the conversation.
Part of Bill's legacy was the civility of his questioning, which could be both disarming and dogged. Yet his decision to join the panel of journalists facing the newsmaker--an interesting switch in the show's format at the time--indicated that he was also capable of a more confrontational approach.
One of his most memorable interviews was with Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1976. He asked a specific question about Wallace's views on segregation and didn't get a great answer. So he kept asking the question. Once, twice, three times. There was never a lot of buildup--just very precise, direct questioning. It's this legacy of persistence and accountability that I hope lives on today. If I'm doing my job right, it's carried on week in and week out on the show.
Gregory is the host of NBC's Meet the Press