When Christiane Amanpour was announced as the new host of ABC’s This Week in March, the choice was met with some skepticism, mainly due to her background in foreign affairs as a CNN war correspondent. And after her debut this morning with a pair of high-profile guests — House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Defense Secretary Robert Gates — the critical response indicates the jury is still very much still out.
The Times’ Alessandra Stanley — who argues that for Sunday-morning talk-show hosts, “personal opinions matter far less than experience and personal style” — writes that she felt Amanpour’s “panache and a no-nonsense briskness” could ultimately lead to her success. Stanley notes in particular Amanpour's unusual decision to hold up the graphic Time magazine cover of a woman whose face had been disfigured by the Taliban when questioning Pelosi about the war in Afghanistan. The Los Angeles Times’ Robert Lloyd was also cautiously optimistic, noting that — though she didn’t get anything particularly newsworthy out of Pelosi or Gates — there is something “fresh about her.” “She's a star, but naturally or tactically, not an insider,” he writes.
The Washington Post’s Tom Shales — who was among the journalists who criticized the choice back in March — was not nearly as impressed with Amanpour's debut, however, calling her “miscast for the role,” with her global background “coming across as inappropriate and contrived on a broadcast that for three decades has dealt primarily with domestic politics, policies and culture.” He mentions in particular her asking Taliban expert Ahmed Rashid (whom she had brought on for the roundtable portion of the show) about the U.S. economy, claiming it seemed even he felt it had “dubious relevance and authority to the topic at hand.” Shales argues that interim host Jake Tapper “stood a good chance of steering This Week into the kind of dominance that Meet the Press has so long enjoyed."