Famed foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour’s debut as the new anchor of ABC’s ‘This Week’ drew a variety of reactions from the nation’s critics – at least the ones keenly interested in the comings and goings of moderators on the Sunday-morning political chat shows.
Depending on the critic, Amanpour’s overseas expertise was either a benefit or a detriment for the august public affairs show moderated previously by Jake Tapper, George Stephanopolous, the team of Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, and the late David Brinkley.
Cheeky Washington Post critic Tom Shales called Amanpour “miscast.” He apparently prefers his Sunday morning shows to be hosted by journalists who have long worked the government beats in Washington. Shales argued that Amanpour’s “highly touted global orientation [came] across as inappropriate and contrived on a broadcast that for three decades has dealt primarily with domestic politics, policies and culture.”
To the Los Angeles Times, however, Amanpour’s “outsider” status was refreshing. “There is something fresh about her,” wrote the Times’ Robert Lloyd. “She’s a star, but naturally or tactically, not an insider. She lacks the familiarity that characterizes many of her colleagues, who whatever their differences project a chummy attitude of being in the same game [with their shows’ guests].”
Amanpour is best-known as the long-time CNN correspondent who knew her way around the world’s hot spots – particularly the Middle East. She’s one of several veteran CNN-ers who have left the news channel in recent months, among them Erica Hill (to the CBS ‘Early Show’), Lou Dobbs and Campbell Brown.
Another critic, Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Slezak, liked Amanpour for her aggressive interview style, which she applied in Q&As with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “It seems like she’s interested in getting real, substantive answers rather than simply sexy soundbites – and also when to interrupt a guest to stop the flow of a prefabricated talking point,” Slezak wrote.
And at least one critic felt Amanpour’s performance amounted to the same-old thing. “What what was most striking about the show was how little had changed,” wrote Glynnis MacNicol of Mediaite.com. “In fact it was hard not to get the sense that Amanpour was merely filling in for [Jake] Tapper.”
A new host on a long-running show can often come across as awkward in his or her first time out. It certainly was true for Amanpour as she recited some clumsily composed introductory lines at the beginning of Sunday’s ‘This Week.’
“Good morning – I am thrilled to be here at the Newseum,” she said, introducing herself from the Washington-based museum of journalism where ‘This Week’ is based. “After 20 years of covering the world, the story in this country is turning into one of the most fascinating: The struggle over politics and policy and how they merge to meet people’s needs.”
As Kathy Griffin might have reacted: “Snoozers!”
Still, the usual pattern is this: The critics have their say after the first show and then almost never return for followup critiques. This means that, like any other newbie, Amanpour will get a chance to settle in to her new job in the weeks and months to come without having to face any Monday-morning quarterbacking.
What do you think of the Sunday-morning shows? Week after week, they book some of the most powerful people in the U.S. government, but do they really have any impact? Do you pay attention to what the movers and shakers say on these shows? Or are these shows increasingly irrelevant?