The largely perfunctory manner in which it was announced that Diane Sawyer would replace Charles Gibson as anchor of ABC's World News has left many analysts questioning the timing of Gibson's announcement and the network's response to it. Many noted that in Gibson's lengthy farewell message to ABC staff members, he made no mention at all of Sawyer. And news chief David Westin's statement merely suggested that he had no other candidate in mind when he decided to elevate Sawyer to the anchor post. Sawyer herself paid tribute to her onetime Primetime and Good Morning America cohost ("There is no one like Charlie Gibson") but limited her comment to two sentences, the second one being, "Until then, I'll be getting up early." The statement appeared to dash speculation that she might wind up anchoring both Good Morning America and World News , something that both she and Gibson did for a time following the death of Peter Jennings in 2005. Nor was there any hint of a replacement for Sawyer on GMA. The network has always insisted that the morning program was a far greater contributor to its bottom line than the evening newscast and that the decision to keep Sawyer having to rise early was a recognition of that fact. That a transition in the evening was announced before a morning host was selected seemed peculiar, especially since it was made four months in advance. In its report about Sawyer's elevation to the more prestigious post, Broadcasting & Cable observed, "If her move to World News -- where she'll have more reasonable hours and a lighter workload with more time to pursue newsmagazine projects -- is bowing to the inevitable, it creates a big hole on the network's most important broadcast."

03/09/2009