Analysis: George Stephanopoulos Returns to ‘This Week,’ But For How Long?

By Alex Weprin 

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Following the departure of Christiane Amanpour from “This Week,” ABC announced that George Stephanopoulos would be returning to the anchor chair he once held–in addition to his duties as co-anchor of “Good Morning America.”

All over the internet, there was outrage over the selection, as ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper–long considered a favorite for the role–was once again passed over for the job.

Stephanopoulos will likely remain on “This Week” at least through the next Presidential inauguration in January 2013, an eternity in the TV world. Nonetheless, the workload could become an issue down the line. Waking up at 3 AM Monday through Friday is already an exhausting job, now add hosting a show on the weekend in a different city, and it becomes that much harder.

The next step for Stephanopoulos after “This Week” and “GMA” could be “ABC World News,” currently anchored by Diane Sawyer. A source in the agent community says that Stephanopoulos is believed to have a clause in his contract with ABC guaranteeing him the “World News” anchor chair in the event that Sawyer leaves.

As for Tapper:

He is expected to be a major player on “This Week” going forward and will be the program’s primary fill-in when Stephanopoulos is out, but the fact that he did not get the role certainly took many inside ABC News and its competitors by surprise. It isn’t clear whether Tapper lobbied for the position after Amanpour’s future became apparent inside ABC.

Tapper’s presence in the White House press room is vital for ABC News, but he would certainly be able to handle “This Week” in addition to those duties. If anything, he would have an easier time than Stephanopoulos, who has to commute and operate on a different sleep schedule.

For now though–and likely at least until 2013–ABC’s Sunday morning public affairs show will be under the watch of someone who knows it well, and who viewers know well, even if it isn’t the person many media observers expected.