BY: Frazier Moore
NEW YORK – Saying she’s “eager to open a window on the world,” ABC’s Christiane Amanpour has joined the company of Sunday political talk hosts.
She appeared comfortable and aggressively inquisitive in her new position.
Guests on her first broadcast were Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Both interviews were pretaped — a double departure from the usual live nature of the Sunday shows.
But mostly the hour format stuck closely to the past.
The second half consisted of the traditional round-table analysis by a trio of familiar faces: journalist George Will, political strategist Donna Brazile and economist Paul Krugman, along with Pakistani journalist and Taliban expert Ahmed Rashid, from Madrid.
‘This Week’ continues to originate from Washington’s Newseum, but the show is newly billed as “from all across our world to the heart of our nation’s capital.”
“Having witnessed firsthand the global challenges and opportunities that America faces every day, I’m also eager to open a window on the world and cut through those classified issues that we all confront,” Amanpour said at the top of the broadcast.
Of course, domestic politics was never too far from the conversation.
“What is it you can do for the (American) people in this highly polarized situation?” Amanpour asked Pelosi.
Pelosi replied that what Amanpour called a highly polarized situation “is a very big difference of opinion. The Republicans are here for the special interests; we’re here for the people’s interests.”
Amanpour, a 52-year-old journalist born in Iran whose specialty is international stories, was a surprise hire by ABC after spending a quarter-century at CNN. She became one of CNN’s best-known personalities for her hard-nosed reporting from war zones and other trouble spots.
She gained a high profile as CNN’s top international correspondent in the days when there was only one cable news network, reporting from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Balkans and elsewhere.
Since moving to New York several years ago to be with her husband, former U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin, Amanpour has logged much less airtime. She hosted a daily program for the CNN International network, highlights of which were shown each Sunday afternoon on CNN’s domestic network.
Since her hiring by ABC was announced in March, Amanpour has voiced hopes of bringing a more global approach to the domestically focused, often Washington-centric ‘This Week.’ She plans to commute to her new job from a home in New York, which seals her credibility as a Washington outsider.
Amanpour was chosen for ‘This Week’ over in-house ABC candidates including Terry Moran and Jake Tapper. Former ABC ‘Nightline’ anchor Ted Koppel also was reportedly considered.
Tapper had filled in as interim host since January. After seven years at ‘This Week,’ Stephanopoulos moved to ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ replacing Diane Sawyer, who in December took over the network’s “World News Tonight” from retiring anchor Charles Gibson.
Then, ‘This Week’ was ranked second in the ratings behind ‘Meet the Press,’ according to the Nielsen Co. But since Stephanopoulos’ departure, the program has also been beaten in viewership by ‘Face the Nation.’
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