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Charles Gibson Ascends

By RD Heldenfels Published: May 23, 2006

With the injury to Bob Woodruff and the pregnancy of Elizabeth Vargas -- not to mention a recent slump in the ratings -- ''World News Tonight'' has changed direction again. Here's the announcement from ABC News:

Charles Gibson has been named anchor of “World News Tonight,” ABC News President David Westin announced today. Mr. Gibson’s new assignment will take effect on Monday, May 29. He will continue as a co-anchor of “Good Morning America” until June 30.

“Charlie Gibson is one of the most distinguished journalists on television. He is a superb broadcaster, the consummate professional and a very familiar presence to the audience and everyone at World News Tonight,” said Mr. Westin.

''I am humbled to accept this new assignment. I have witnessed first hand the grace and determination of every member of the staff of World News Tonight. I look forward to joining this extraordinary team and to helping the broadcast start a new chapter,” said Mr. Gibson. 

Mr. Westin continued, “Going forward Elizabeth Vargas has asked that we limit her responsibilities to anchoring 20/20 and special primetime hours. From the moment Peter [Jennings] became ill, no person in this organization has stepped up more than Elizabeth. I have nothing but respect, gratitude and admiration for the work she has done on our behalf often times under enormously stressful conditions. Elizabeth is absolutely vital to the success and future of ABC News.”

“David and I have been talking for some time about what would happen as my maternity leave approaches,” said Ms. Vargas. “My doctors have asked that I cut back my schedule considerably.  What works best for me and my family is to return in the Fall to 20/20 as I raise my new baby and young son. I have loved every day I spent at World News Tonight and have endless respect for my colleagues there. This broadcast needs someone who can give 150 percent -- day in and day out. I am not in a position to give that right now and it wouldn’t be fair to do any less. In Charlie, this broadcast and news division has a wonderful and respected leader.”

Mr. Westin added, “Charlie's taking over World News Tonight will give Bob Woodruff the extended period that he needs to recover and return to the air for ABC News. All of us look forward to that day, but it will be on Bob's timetable, not ours.”

Bob Woodruff said, “Elizabeth and I set out on a great adventure this year, and I’m proud of what we accomplished. Elizabeth had to shoulder an enormous job when I was injured and she did it with grace. Charlie Gibson is a mentor and a friend. I look forward to contributing to his broadcast as soon as I’m able.”

Diane Sawyer, Mr. Gibson’s co-anchor on Good Morning America, said, “I know Elizabeth will bring great reporting to primetime as she always has  and Charlie will be wonderful on World News Tonight. I will be watching him every night.”

For the month of June, Mr. Gibson will work double-duty at both “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight.” He will co-anchor “Good Morning America” with Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts Monday-Wednesday each week and anchor “World News Tonight” Monday-Thursday.  Beginning in July he will anchor “World News Tonight” exclusively.

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