DAVID GREGORY FOR ‘MTP’…. Alas, NBC News apparently declined my request to make Rachel Maddow the permanent host of “Meet the Press.”

NBC News plans to name David Gregory as moderator of “Meet the Press,” infusing one of television’s most prized franchises with a sharp edge leavened by a youthful style and versatility, according to network executives.

Gregory, 38, celebrated his 30th birthday — complete with cake — aboard George W. Bush’s presidential campaign plane, the assignment that solidified his stature as a network rising star. Enjoying a gravitas boost from his prematurely salt-and-pepper mane and friendships with Tom Brokaw and other of the legendary figures of NBC News, the Los Angeles native quickly became one of the hottest personalities in network news.

The plan to anoint Gregory is not final but will be as soon as today, the executives said.

When Gregory was the White House correspondent for NBC News, I actually enjoyed his work. He was, at times, relentless, asking questions his colleagues seemed too timid to pursue. Watching the press briefings, we’d see Scott McClellan or Tony Snow offer an evasive/ridiculous response to a legitimate question, and Gregory was consistently the one to call them on it, usually with more than a little impatience and indignation. I used to think we’d be better off if more of the White House press corps was as aggressive as Gregory throughout Bush’s presidency.

But since then, Gregory has often been a disappointment, repeating tired, predictable narratives, failing to question the conventional wisdom, and generally becoming a generic talking head.

Here’s hoping Gregory will make the most of this very high-profile promotion, and show some of the passion and skepticism that made him watchable when he sat in the front row of the White House briefing room.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.