Ben Sherwood and ABC: ‘Masters of the Dark Arts’

By Brian Flood 

Ben SherwoodThe latest issue of New York magazine features a lengthy, 5,500-word profile of Disney/ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood.

Sherwood, Rhodes Scholar-turned TV news producer-turned author, is in charge of all TV-related business and reports directly to Disney CEO Bob Iger. Starting next month, he’ll be overseeing 24,000 annual hours of original programming.

On his way to the top of ABC, he turned around the news division, starting with “Good Morning America.” NYMag’s Andrew Goldman writes:

In order to win the morning, Sherwood was convinced that using the press to pummel the competition—especially Matt Lauer, the perceived heavy in the ouster of Ann Curry—was nearly as important to ABC’s path to the championship as anything it was putting on its own airwaves. In the summer of 2012, according to a high-ranking ABC employee present in a postshow meeting in the GMA production office, Sherwood stood in front of the entire staff and told them what to expect as the battle heated up. ‘NBC will be coming at us in the press with everything they have,’ Sherwood announced. ‘But don’t worry. We are masters of the dark arts.’

Goldman interviewed many current and former colleagues of Sherwood, including former ABC News anchor Chris Cuomo, who talks about the gossip shop that is ABC News. “I’ve worked at CNBC, MSNBC, Fox, ABC, and now CNN, and I have never worked at a place that was as gossipy as that place. It’s toxically gossipy, so what I’ve heard versus what I believe are two very different things.”