Now that George Stephanopoulos is ensconced on the Good Morning America couch, rumors are swirling about who will get the nod to replace him on Sunday public affairs program This Week.
Chief White House correspondent Jake Tapper and Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran, are in the running. Gwen Ifill, who has been a guest at the This Week roundtable and also is a PBS anchor, has been mentioned.
But it is Ted Koppel’s name that is the source of the most intriguing speculation. The veteran ABC News anchor and the original host of Nightline exudes the kind of capital-G gravitas that is in increasingly short supply on television. He left the network in 2005 after which Westin reconfigured Nightline to feature multiple topics and anchors. At the time, Koppel was offered the This Week chair, but he demurred. Instead he and his longtime producer Tom Bettag signed a three-year deal to do documentary projects at Discovery. That deal ended after 2 ½ years. Koppel is currently a contributor at BBC America and NPR.
Nightline is the source of much pride in the executive suite at ABC News having become a contender in the late-night landscape that now features a beleaguered Conan O’Brian at NBC’s venerable Tonight Show franchise.
TVNewser’s Gail Shister talked to Koppel, who said he has not been approached by Westin. Indeed, Westin told me yesterday that he just this week turned his attention This Week.
“I’ve been through a few of these anchor changes now, more than I would have liked,” he said. “And the way I do this is I focus on one program at a time because if I’m focusing on more than one program I’ll make the wrong decision for the program in front of me.
“Ted Koppel was a valued colleague for many years,” he continued. “He’s a very talented man. But it’s way too early to speculate.”
Maybe so, but the clock is officially ticking.