Charles Gibson will step down as anchor of ABC's World News in January and be replaced by his onetime Good Morning America and Primetime co-host Diane Sawyer, ABC News President David Westin announced today (Wednesday). In a message to colleagues, Gibson said that he had planned to step down in 2007. "But with Peter [Jennings's] illness, Bob [Woodruff's] injuries, and Elizabeth [Vargas's] pregnancy, the job at World News came open in May of 2006, and David asked me to step in as anchor. It was an honor to do so." Gibson said that he hoped to be able to contribute "occasionally" to ABC News in the future, "and we will be discussing what that role might be." In a separate statement, Westin said, "Diane Sawyer is the right person to succeed Charlie and build on what he has accomplished." Westin did not indicate who will replace her on Good Morning America or even whether she will be leaving GMA at the same time she takes over the evening newscast. (For a time following Jennings's death she and Gibson alternated as news anchors.) Sawyer did not immediately issue a statement. She has repeatedly denied reports that she lobbied for the anchor post following Jennings's death and was infuriated when she was passed over.

02/09/2009