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Charles Gibson, the chief anchor of ABC's "World News," will step down at the end of the year. Gibson is to be replaced by a familiar figure, Diane Sawyer. She is his former co-host on "Good Morning America."
NPR's David Folkenflik has the story.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Charles Gibson had actually promised his wife that he was about ready to step down back in 2006, but the death of long-time anchor Peter Jennings was followed by the ill-fated pairing of Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas. When Woodruff was severely wounded by an attack in Iraq, ABC News president David Westin turned to Gibson.
Mr. DAVID WESTIN (President, ABC News): He invariably got the tone right. He would recognize when there was emotion in a story and bring that to the story without moving over into sentimentality.
FOLKENFLIK: The 66-year-old Gibson has been an avuncular presence who was unafraid of mixing it up, as in this interview with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Mr. CHARLES GIBSON (Anchor, "World News"): I got lost in a blizzard of words there. Is that a yes?
FOLKENFLIK: Or a Democratic debate where his questioning drew jeers.
Mr. GIBSON: The crowd's turning on me.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. GIBSON: The crowd is turning on me. We'll be back in one minute.
FOLKENFLIK: Gibson stabilized the newscast and brought it to a ratings lead. It's now a strong second place to the NBC "Nightly News." Now, the 63-year-old Diane Sawyer will follow his path. David Westin said Sawyer could have lobbied for the job three years ago but supported Gibson instead.
Mr. WESTIN: She has more than paid her dues, and she has waited her turn. This is the right time for Diane.
FOLKENFLIK: Sawyer got her start in Washington as a young press aide in the Nixon White House, then joined CBS's Washington bureau as a State Department reporter and was later a correspondent for "60 Minutes." She jumped to ABC to host "Prime Time Live" and "Good Morning America," where she interviewed world leaders and performed such stunts as standing on her head for a young Elian Gonzalez. She'll take over "World News" in January. And then, for the first time, two of the three solo anchors on the prestigious network evening newscasts will be women.
David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.
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