Good Morning America buries its own lead; Stephanopoulos acknowledges GMA gig on air this morning
This morning, ABC's A.M. news show Good Morning America buried its own lead story, feteing departing anchor Diane Sawyer, talking terrorism on Facebook and dissecting President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech before getting to the news media writers had been parsing for nearly two weeks -- ABC's lead political reporter George Stephanopoulos was about to join their anchor team.
Perhaps the most awkward moment in that brief exchange came when news reader Chris Cuomo had to acknowledge Stephanopoulos on camera and congratulate both him and Sawyer on their anchor moves. It has been widely reported that Cuomo wanted the job Stephanopoulos got, choosing to leave for the co-anchor gig on 20/20 rather than see himself passed over.
Thus begins the most murderous anchor schedule in television, as Stephanopoulos takes on leading the network's most profitable news show while continuing to anchor its lead political news show This Week on Sundays. During interviews Thursday, executives downplayed talk of Stephanopoulos insisting on changes to the show aimed at preserving his hard news image -- "We always tailor the show to the anchors on it" -- insisted executive producer Jim Murphy.
Murphy also downplayed the challenge of replacing two people on his broadcast at once -- saying both Stephanopoulos and new newsreader Juju Chang have appeared on the show many times (hey, I've been on CNN a bunch of times - does that mean I can sit in for Wolf Blitzer?)
But this is a unique bit of circumstance; ABC will likely change anchors on three of its leading news shows within a week -- Sawyer to World News, Cuomo to 20/20 and Stephanopoulos to GMA -- with a fourth change coming the minute Stephanopoulos collapses from overwork (if Nightline host Terry Moran gets tapped for This Week, as they should consider, add a fifth change).
I hope ABC follows Jon Stewart's suggestion and offers This Week to PBS host Gwen Ifill. Many of us ifill fans were hoping against hope NBC would let her take Meet the Press in a new direction after Tim Russert's untimely death; given ABC's need for some new anchor stars, handing Ifill This Week would be a prescient move.