ABC Hires CNN's Amanpour For 'This Week'
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Christiane Amanpour is best known for racing across the globe from hotspot to hotspot covering conflict for CNN. Now, ABC News has tapped her to replace George Stephanopoulos as host of "This Week." That's its Sunday public affairs show. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, the new host wants to bring her global perspective to a show that's better known for analyzing domestic news.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK: The 52-year-old Christiane�Amanpour was born in Britain, raised in Tehran, educated in the U.S. and, 27 years ago, given her first foreign news job by CNN in Germany as a young desk producer.
Since then, she's become just about synonymous with CNN's coverage of foreign news. Rome Hartman is executive producer of BBC World News America.
Mr. ROME HARTMAN (Executive producer, BBC World News America): She is maybe the most impressive foreign correspondent on television over the last 20 years. She has done everything all around the world. And in many ways, sort of invented the form.
FOLKENFLIK: Hartman says, in her early years, it was still pretty new for TV news to go live on a big story abroad, whether Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, civil war in the Balkans, or slaughter in Rwanda.
Mr. HARTMAN: She was sort of the perfect person at the perfect network, where she cared a lot and knew a lot about big foreign stories, and CNN wanted to own those stories. And she was the way they did it for a long time.
FOLKENFLIK: Yesterday, ABC News announced it would steal CNN star reporter to fill its vacancy on "This Week." Amanpour tells NPR that she is honored to be following in the footsteps of David Brinkley, Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, and most recently, Stephanopoulos.
Ms. CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (Correspondent): The DNA of this program is set, in that it has a really compelling relationship with the audience. It has the interview. It has the round table. It has all the different perspectives. And now I hope to bring my perspective as somebody who's really been in the trenches, literally and figuratively, all over the world.
FOLKENFLIK: The Sunday morning news shows are remarkably similar, with a heavy focus on domestic politics. They don't have giant followings. "This Week" comes in second place each Sunday with about 2.2 million viewers, but it's a valued and upscale demographic. What's more, it also provides a rallying point for the news division. Amanpour says she intends to introduce some different newsmakers and different issues.
Ms. AMANPOUR: People do want to know about the world, not just in an abstract or an exotic way, but in a way that they can understand how the world affects them and how they affect the world.
Mr. ANDREW TYNDALL (Tyndallreport.com): She's going to have to prove it. At the moment it's untested.
FOLKENFLIK: Andrew Tyndall is a consultant to the broadcast networks who keeps an exhaustive database of news stories at Tyndallreport.com. He says the announcement fits the recent pattern of high profile anchor appointments at ABC News.
Mr. TYNDALL: Christiane Amanpour, they hired to replace Stephanopoulos, is another celebrity journalist with a major name. What they're doing is they're spending money at the top of their organization chart to keep major names and major faces in their anchor desks and cutting money underneath on the nuts and bolts of news gathering.
FOLKENFLIK: Recently, the network announced it will cut hundreds of news division employees. Amanpour says ABC's nonetheless committed to allowing her to give a serious treatment to foreign affairs. Along with her hosting duties at ABC's "This Week," she's been promised the chance to do primetime documentaries for the network. Amanpour will start in August.
David Folkenflik, NPR News.
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