ABC's "This Week" is renowned for focusing on domestic topics and hosting debates on the political issues of the day. So when host George Stephanopoulos announced he was leaving the program earlier this year, Beltway pundits assumed a journalist with a heavy domestic background would take over the show.
Instead, CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, who specializes in foreign affairs, was offered the hosting job. Amanpour and ABC reached an agreement, and she is expected to take over the show beginning in August.
In the meantime, flabbergasted bloggers quickly came out against the hire, calling it a bad fit for both Amanpour and ABC. The negative reaction was bipartisan, and it some cases it was vicious.
- Not Objective Enough "Amanpour has a well-earned reputation as a journalistic activist, not someone who works objectively," argues Hot Air's Ed Morrissey, who makes a calm, lucid case against ABC's decision. "Instead of getting a seasoned political reporter who had built a reputation for objectivity, or at least fairness, for this role, ABC went outside of its house to snag someone who barely knows the main subject matter in which their audience is interested," he adds.
- Grossly Unqualified A harsher version of Morrissey's view comes from Tom Shales, a veteran Style critic at The Washington Post. In examining the many detractors of the Amanpour hire, Shales takes several potshots at the CNN reporter, whom he labels "the opposite of the perfect candidate." Shales saves his most incendiary comments for his closing, when he ponders whether ABC will have to reverse its decision.
From many angles, it was a bad choice -- one which could create so much consternation that [ABC News president David] Westin will be forced to withdraw Amanpour's name and come up with another "nominee" for the job. That would hardly be a tragedy -- considering how many others deserve it more than she does.
- August Dilemma for ABC? Citing Shales' takedown, Politico's Michael Calderone wonders whether a good showing from interim host Jake Tapper could spell controversy for the network. "[Tapper] has been taking suggestions on Twitter as to how to mix things up on the show," he reports. "If Tapper's ratings are competitive with -- or perhaps some weeks better than -- 'Meet the Press' and 'Face the Nation,' ABC may be in a tough spot come August."
- ABC's the Problem, not Amanpour At Time, James Poniewozik argues it's Amanpour that's too good for a show based on partisan bickering. "With Amanpour, who's more known for her work in the Balkans than in the Beltway, ABC has a chance to do a show that breaks from the Sunday shows' myopic obsessions, that focuses on policies and ideas over partisan handicapping (and kneecapping)," he writes. "Let's hope she takes this chance to remake the tired Sunday-morning show format, and not let it remake her."
- Right Person, Right Hire Jim Romenesko reprints ABC's email response to Shales' column:
There has always been all kinds fretful ink spilled about decisions we've made that ultimately turn out quite well for ABC News. If we are being accused of hiring one of the most well respected journalists in the world we proudly plead guilty and cannot wait for Christiane to focus her considerable talents on the Sunday morning landscape