NEW YORK — When George Stephanopoulos returned to host ABC’s “This Week” following the departure of Christiane Amanpour in late 2011, network staffers assumed his second tenure would only last through the 2012 election, or perhaps, as late as Inauguration Day.
That was the view among media watchers, too. The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz suggested at the time that Stephanopoulos’s arrangement at “This Week” may only be through 2012, while TV Newser’s Alex Weprin wrote he’d “likely remain” on the Sunday public affairs show until the presidential inauguration in January 2013.
But as Obama’s second inauguration nears, there are no signs that Stephanopoulos is ready to leave his perch on the influential public affairs show he hosts on Sundays, while continuing to co-host “Good Morning America” on weekdays.
“Both shows have momentum and he’s enjoying what he’s doing,” an ABC News spokesman told The Huffington Post.
In September, ABC News hired a New York-based executive producer, signaling that the traditionally Beltway-centric show may be increasingly broadcast from the Big Apple. That would mean less of a commute for Stephanopoulos, thus making it a bit easier to continue with both shows.
Stephanopoulos, a former top Clinton White House official, became host of “This Week” in 2002 and remained until he was tapped for the GMA job in late 2009. ABC brass went beyond the Beltway, and their own network stable, in picking CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour to succeed him.
Two years later, Amanpour left “This Week” to once again focus on international affairs, both at ABC and as host of a new show on CNN International. While ABC staffers respected Amanpour’s journalistic chops, some told The Huffington Post at the time that the traditionally D.C.-focused public affairs show was less frequently driving the political conversation.
Again, ABC didn’t pull from the network’s D.C. bench, which includes Jake Tapper, Terry Moran, Jonathan Karl and Martha Raddatz — all of whom have guest-hosted the show. Instead, Stephanopoulos returned to his former role, while continuing duties at GMA.
While ABC executives never described Stephanopoulos’ return as an interim position — as NBC did in giving Tom Brokaw “Meet the Press” following Tim Russert’s death in 2008 — there was an assumption internally and outside the ABC newsroom that Stephanopoulos would similarly be steadying the ship through an election cycle before handing over the reins to someone else. Tapper, whose contract was reportedly up sometime after the election, has most often been mentioned as a successor.
On Sept. 2, “This Week” took the top spot in both total viewers and in the age 25-54 demo, a first for the Sunday show in over two years. In more recent weeks, however, the ABC program ranked third in total viewers, behind NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Last week, ABC came in second in the demo.
PHOTO: George Stephanpoulos walks on stage at the 2012 Fiscal Summit on May 15, 2012 in Washington, DC.(Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)