Sensational Interviews Go Head-to-head In Primetime
It was the week when ABC's Diane Sawyer was expected finally to beat her arch rival, NBC's Brian Williams, in the ratings. Not on the evening news, where she trails Williams by about a million viewers, but in primetime, when her 20/20 interview with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was expected to clobber Williams's new magazine show, Rock Center. Then, on Monday morning, NBC News announced that it would air an interview between Bob Costas and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky during Rock Center. It even released excerpts from the Sandusky interview in which the coach denied that he had sexually molested young boys when he headed his The Second Mile charity. Sawyer's interview with Giffords didn't have a chance, remarked Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moreas, adding, "November sweep competition sure can be brutal." She was wrong. The Sandusky interview on Rock Center attracted 4.5 million viewers; the Giffords interview on 20/20 attracted 13.4 million. Sawyer had clobbered Williams after all.