Charles in Charge

Last week, ABC News chose Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson as the new anchor of World News Tonight. The job opened up just six months after Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas were named co-anchors following the death of Peter Jennings, but Woodruff was injured in Iraq and Vargas unexpectedly became pregnant. Gibson spoke to Joe Hagan.

You were rejected for this job so recently—do you feel vindicated?
No, this is not vindication. It’s really circumstance. [TV news critic] Andrew Tyndall said this is a slap in the face to women, but Elizabeth has had a very tough pregnancy. The doctors said she better knock it off and get in bed.

How is Diane Sawyer taking this?
I don’t know to what extent Diane was interested. I said to her, “If you want to do it, you should go do it.” She said to me, “You should go do it.” I admire her. I was fully onboard if she wanted to go do it. That I know of, she did not make the kind of pitch that the press portrayed.

She hired Allen Grubman, the high-powered entertainment lawyer. That seems serious.
I have no idea what that’s about. I read that. If that’s true—who is he? I don’t know anything about that guy. You don’t hire a lawyer to get yourself a job. You don’t do that.

Do you resent being compared to CBS’s Bob Schieffer because you’re both old?
I don’t resent that in the least. But I wouldn’t put too fine a point on the Schieffer model. I don’t think they said, “The old codger Bob Schieffer worked, so let’s pick Charlie.”

Will you report from the field as much as NBC’s Brian Williams?
That’s because of Katrina; you saw him going down there. Now he’s in Africa. I don’t know why you do that. Why the hell do you go to Africa? It’s certainly an interesting choice. We’ll do travel, when it warrants.

Will you go to Iraq?

Is that a priority?
Do I consider what’s going on in Iraq a priority? You bet I do. But does that mean you have to go over there every other week? No.

And there might be some hesitation at ABC after Woodruff’s accident.
You can’t say, “No, I won’t go to Iraq because Bob got hurt.” We’ve had discussions about various things like “Where’s the bathroom?” but we’re not into discussing that kind of stuff yet.

Did you find it?
Yeah, somebody showed me that, so I’m all set. Next: Bikini-Season Quick Fixes

Charles in Charge