Pull Up an Anchor Chair, Ted Koppel

By Gail Shister Comment

Koppel_12.18.jpgSo tell us, Ted Koppel, any truth to buzz that you’re a candidate for the anchor job at ABC’s “This Week”?

“Let me put it this way,” says Koppel, former longtime anchor of ABC’s “Nightline.” “I never respond, positively or negatively, to something that’s not been offered. I haven’t been asked, so there’s nothing to respond to.”

Given Koppel’s fondness for diplomatic subtext, however, could that be construed as a non-denial denial?

“No, it’s a clear statement of fact,” he says. “If ABC is interested, they know how to find me.”

For that to happen, Koppel would have better odds in the Witness Protection Program.

For starters, reported frontrunners Jake Tapper and Terry Moran, both at ABC, are 40 and 50, respectively. Koppel turns 70 in February.

Moreover, Koppel’s departure from ABC in 2005 after 42 distinguished years was far from a hero’s farewell.

Technically, he chose to leave at the conclusion of his contract. In reality, he was squeezed out so ABC could blow up “Nightline’s” format and bring in younger talent.

At the time, Koppel turned down ABC’s offer to host “This Week,” saying he wasn’t eager to join the crowded Sunday-morning gaggle. Instead, the job went to George Stephanopoulos, who this week moved to “Good Morning America.”

Oh, the irony.

Koppel isn’t lacking for work these days. He’s a regular contributor to BBC America and NPR, and he does “a fair amount” of lecturing.

His fee for the business circuit “is none of your goddamn business,” he says. Pause. “As senior President [H. W.] Bush once memorably noted, ‘It comes dangerously close to white collar crime.'”

Back to Stephanopoulos, Koppel says he’s “doing fine” in his new gig. “George has never failed at anything he’s done. There’s no reason to believe he’s going to start now.”

Ditto, Koppel says, for Diane Sawyer, who debuts Monday as anchor of “World News.”