Sawyer succeeding Gibson at ABC News anchor desk


Charles Gibson has announced plans to step down as anchor of “World News.” ABC News President David Westin says Diane Sawyer will take over the anchor chair, effective in January 2010.

Gibson has been anchor of World News since May 29, 2006. ABC had previously selected Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodward as co-anchors, following the death of Peter Jennings in 2005, but Woodward was then seriously injured by a bomb in Iraq and Vargas resigned to face a difficult pregnancy.

“It had been my intention to step down from my job at Good Morning America in 2007 but with Peter’s illness, Bob’s injuries, and Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the job at World News came open in May of 2006, and David asked me to step in as anchor. It was an honor to do so. The program is now operating at a very accelerated, but steady, cruising speed, and I think it is an opportune time for a transition – both for the broadcast and for me. Life is dynamic; it is not static,” Gibson said in an email to ABC News staffers. “I have told David I would like to continue in some capacity contributing occasionally to ABC News. He has been receptive to the idea – and we will be discussing what that role might be,” Gibson added.

“Diane Sawyer is the right person to succeed Charlie and build on what he has accomplished. She has an outstanding and varied career in television journalism, beginning with her role as a State Department correspondent and continuing at 60 Minutes, Primetime Live, and Good Morning America,” said Westin in his own email to staffers.

“She has interviewed every President since President George H. W. Bush up to and including President Obama. She has handled an array of breaking news special events, including on 9/11 and, most recently, the presidential election. She has done distinguished documentaries on topics as varied as North Korea, the plight of women in Afghanistan and in prisons here at home, and poverty in Camden, New Jersey, and in Appalachia. We are fortunate to have a journalist of Diane’s proven ability and passion to step into the important position of anchor for World News. She will continue with her documentaries in her new role,” Westin continued.

Sawyer’s new role will leave an important vacancy to fill on “Good Morning America.” Westin said further announcements will be forthcoming before the changes actually take place in January.

RBR/TVBR observation: Not too many years back, it was big news that one of the big three network news departments would have a woman as its primary anchor. Now it will be two out of three. Certainly no one would question whether Sawyer has the gravitas to handle the role.