Last week, Diane Sawyer, onetime aide to President Nixon in the White House and, after his resignation, at San Clemente, concluded her decade-long run as anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America; in rather symmerical fashion, she was replaced on Monday by George Stephanopoulos, who came to national notice as one of Bill Clinton’s top advisors in 1992 (and White House communications advisor during that president’s first term).
On Friday, Charles Gibson, after three years anchoring ABC’s World News Tonight, made his final broadcast. This Monday, Sawyer will replace him.
These transitions, as Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune points out, are being made with a minimum of fuss. ABC’s top executives keenly recall the backlash that resulted from the hoopla surrounding Katie Couric’s debut as anchor of the CBS Evening News, and the corresponding decline in that network’s ratings. Their object is to maintain ABC’s place as the second-most watched evening news show (after Brian Williams at NBC Nightly News) and, hopefully, build from there.
Only time will tell if Sawyer can increase viewership from the base generated by Gibson’s low-key appeal. But her presence in the anchor chair serves as another reminder of the wide-ranging impact the Nixon era has had on today’s world.