NEW YORK - NBC News is close to naming chief White House correspondent David Gregory as Tim Russert's replacement on the top-ranked Sunday political talk show "Meet the Press," a network executive said Tuesday.
Gregory is negotiating terms of a deal that would give him the job, said the NBC News executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't final.
Gregory has been considered one of the leading candidates for the job since Russert died last June, with Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd and Gwen Ifill also in the running. Tom Brokaw has filled in since Russert's death, and is interviewing President-elect Barack Obama on Sunday's show.
The Huffington Post had earlier reported Gregory was the selection, to which NBC News spokeswoman Allison Gollust said Tuesday: "We have nothing to announce. Just because the Huffington Post says something doesn't make it true."
Gregory declined to comment. "I've said nothing all through this process and won't say anything until NBC makes an announcement," he said in an e-mail.
The reporter, who has exchanged some angry words with Bush administration officials during news briefings, has seen his profile increase at NBC News, particularly over the past year.
He was MSNBC's chief anchor on Election Night and during general election debates. He also has an hourlong show each weekday on MSNBC - first focused on the campaign and now on the transition - that he would no longer do if he got the "Meet the Press" job.
There has been some question about whether NBC wanted to name a sole anchor to dominate "Meet the Press" in the manner of Russert, or have a regular panel of reporters with Gregory as the moderator.
He would take over the show that has long dominated the Sunday morning political landscape, a ratings lead that Brokaw maintained during his temporary stewardship. All the political talk shows have benefited from the intense interest in the campaign and transition.
During November, "Meet the Press" averaged 4.5 million viewers each Sunday, up 29 percent over November 2007. ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopolous had 3.5 million viewers, up 26 percent, and CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer averaged 3.1 million, up 23 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research.
NBC News is owned by NBC Universal, a division of the General Electric Co.