Another anchorman steps down. Another anchorwoman steps up.
ABC News has announced that Charles Gibson, anchor of the evening World News since May 2006, will leave the chair at year's end and retire from the network.
Diane Sawyer (pictured here in an ABC News photo), anchor of ABC's Good Morning America. She will start in the evening news chair in January, the network says today.
That will place two seasoned newswomen in the anchor chairs of the leading broadcast networks, with Katie Couric at CBS News and now Sawyer, a veteran of CBS herself, at ABC. (Sawyer was the first female co-anchor of CBS' popular 60 Minutes.)
"It has not been an easy decision to make," Gibson said in an e-mail to the World News staff, ABC reports online. "This has been my professional home for almost 35 years. And I love this news department, and all who work in it, to the depths of my soul."
In an era of shrinking market-share for the old pillars of broadcast television, the network anchors have left their mark on recent political coverage nonetheless.
One who may bid Gibson a fond farewell is Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, whose first network news interview after her selection as the Republican Party's nominee for vice president didn't go so well -- exposing the GOP nominee as perhaps not ready for a prime-time campaign. Palin had trouble telling Gibson, for instance, what she thought of "the Bush doctrine.''
"Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?'' Gibson asked Palin.
"In what respect, Charlie?'' Palin replied.
"Well... what do you interpret it to be?'' Gibson asked.
"His world view,'' Palin said. "I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation,'' she said. "There have been blunders along the way, though...
"The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us,'' Gibson said. "Do you agree with that?''
"I agree that a president's job, when they swear in their oath to uphold our Constitution, their top priority is to defend the United States of America,'' Palin said.
This was the beginning of a series of network news interviews that exposed the governor's potential weaknesses. If Gibson had found the first opening, it was Couric, who has struggled at establishing her own foothold in the evening news ratings, who drew a surprising response from Palin in an Evening News interview.
"When it comes to establishing your world view,'' Couric asked the then-Alaska governor, "I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?''
"I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media,'' Palin said.
"What, specifically?'' Couric asked.
"Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.''
Gibson, 66, had planned to retire at the end of 2007 but was compelled to stay following the death of the network's Peter Jennings and a wartime injury of Bob Woodruff in 2006.