As we reported earlier today, Christiane Amanpour is leaving CNN after nearly 27 years with the network and heading to ABC News where she’ll succeed George Stephanopoulos as moderator of that network’s Sunday public affairs show, “This Week.”
TVNewser spoke with Amanpour this evening for a Q&A about working on a D.C.-based political show (she’ll still live in New York) and her thoughts about departing the network where she’s been such a prominent figure.
What are your feelings about leaving CNN?
Amanpour: I thought about this long and hard. Clearly, as you can imagine, it was an intense decision-making process. I’ve spent 26 and a half years at CNN and together with my colleagues we’ve built this incredible place. I have a great amount of respect and admiration for CNN.
It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to become a part of this honored tradition that is “This Week” and to build on it with an international perspective, and build on what “This Week” has forged over the years.
What kind of changes are you planning for the program?
Amanpour: The nuts and bolts are a work in progress. This is a show that’s established in viewers’ minds and in their hearts and in their interests. What we’re doing is building on it to include the international perspective. We’ll focus on the vital domestic policies and issues of the day and the international policies and issues of the day. We’ll use the perspective that I’ve gained over the years of being around the world and interviewing world leaders all over the place.
The round table will continue with the amazing people like George Will, who’s a national treasure, Paul Krugman, Donna Brazile and the ABC correspondents, Jake Tapper, Jonathan Karl, Martha Raddatz, who’s had incredibly distinguished career. I’m very very proud to be able to join in a collegial way with all these people.
Will you continue to do the types of interviews with international leaders that we saw on “Amanpour?”
Amanpour: We’ll do as many as I can. I’m someone who picks up the phone and builds on relationships that I’ve built in the field. I have also, on my show, interviewed leaders here in the United States from Congress from the Senate, from other branches of government. I want to build on this insatiable passion and curiosity I have about how our world works and how it impacts us here in the United States.
When “Amanpour” was launched, you described the move to the studio as a step out of your “comfort zone” compared to your career as an international correspondent. Do you feel like this is a step further?
I keep taking these steps out of my comfort zone! These are amazing opportunities and challenges and I’m excited exhilarated about the opportunity to translate the international perspective I have to “This Week,” which has such a tradition of international presence. It’s a natural fit. I want to make foreign news less foreign and link it with domestic policy. It’s becoming more and more inevitable in the world we live in that everything that happens overseas affects here and the decisions made in the US affect the world around us.
What do you say to a casual viewer who knows you so well as an international correspondent and is skeptical of you entering the world of Washington, which is so specific?
Amanpour: I hope to prove their skepticism wrong. ABC has done something so bold and decided to go this route. It means hanging on to the DNA of the program, but adding a new perspective. Each host — George Stephanopoulos, Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, David Brinkley — brought their own perspective and shape to the program. In my case, it will be that global perspective, and I think people are eager for it.
You’ve spent so much time at CNN, what will you remember most about those years there?
Amanpour: There’s not one specific thing, but everything. This has been my life’s work, it’s been a passion. I’ve known and worked with people here longer than most of the relationships in my life. I have such tremendous love and admiration for everyone here who have enabled me to do everything I do. In my heart, I’m not leaving them. In my heart, I’m taking this unstoppable and unique opportunity to join a new team.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity)