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David Westin: Master Manipulator



Let's say you're a high-powered network TV news president.

You are unexpectedly forced to replace your top anchor when he passes away from lung cancer, and you want to go with two younger, face-of-the-future figures. But the guy next in line for the job, the guy with the most tenure who is now co-hosting your most profitable show, may want the job -- or at least want to look like he wanted the job.

If you're ABC News president David Westin, you do what you did when you wanted Ted Koppel to leave Nightline; you make him an offer he's bound to refuse.

According to the New York Times, that's essentially how Westin planned to work out the transition between deceased anchor Peter Jennings and his new team Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff -- offering Good Morning America stalwart Charlie Gibson the job for less than two years' transition time.

If Gibson would have accepted, Westin would have time to groom his real replacements for the job while avoiding the unseemly picture of shoving aside a guy widely liked inside and outside the Alphabet Network. Now that Gibson has declined, Westin can say he offered the job up, while keeping his A-Team in the highly-profitable morning news race.

And people wonder why this guy is the longest-tenured news president at the networks...

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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