I guess all those addicted to viewing the Sunday morning talk shows know that Christiane Amanpour has taken over ABC’s This Week that Jake Tapper had temporarily hosted after George Stephanopoulos was shifted (promoted?) to Good Morning America. I did not see Amanpour’s debut that aired last Sunday but I have seen many clips of different segments of that show. What an interesting and intelligent person she is. This will be a fine addition to the Sunday a.m. roundup. I might add that it is a relief to finally have a female host who is also such an experienced journalist.
Of course, the rightwing is having a hissy fit, led by the Washington Post’s t.v. critic Tom Shales. We shouldn’t have been surprised at his reaction to Sunday’s program. He already had his say back in March when her appointment was first announced by ABC. Here’s what Shales had to say back then.
In a way, Amanpour, scheduled to leave CNN after 18 years of international coverage and take over the program in August, could be seen as the opposite of the perfect candidate. "This Week" deals mainly in domestic politics and inside-the-Beltway palaver, an area where Amanpour is widely considered to be deficient....And even though Amanpour has often been touted for her expertise on foreign affairs, she has vocal and passionate critics in that arena as well.
...From many angles, it was a bad choice -- one which could create so much consternation that Westin [ABC’s News President] will be forced to withdraw Amanpour's name and come up with another "nominee" for the job. That would hardly be a tragedy -- considering how many others deserve it more than she does.
Well, Shales was wrong. Instead of a huge hue and cry against her selection, there was much welcoming anticipation, particularly among women.
Of course, Shales had to justify his March criticism with an off-the-wall critique of Amanpour’s first program last Sunday. [Here] Amanpour had previously taped interviews with both Nancy Pelosi and Defense Secretary Gates in which Amanpour’s piercing questions, ranging from the future of the war in Afghanistan to the November Congressional elections, elicited interesting comments from her guests. In fact, CNN on Monday night [Here] picked up Pelosi’s comments about not necessarily listening to what “White House employees” said about those elections.” [Here] Pelosi’s slapdown was referring, of course, to Press Secretary Gibbs’s statement about the possibility of Democrats losing control of the House.
Shales even criticized the shape of the table used in the program’s “round” table discussion. He wrote that the replacement resembled “a lumpy old lima bean.” (I didn’t know that Shales was interested in such details. Perhaps next week we’ll have a critique of Christiane’s wardrobe.)
Shales saved his most astonishing comment for a short segment in the program called “In Memoriam” in which Amanpour honored three people who had died during the previous week and ended with a statement remembering “all those who died in war this week.” [Here] On the screen were shown the names of the American service personnel who had died during the week in Afghanistan.
What did Shales do with that? This is his astonishing comment:
Did she mean to suggest that our mourning extend to members of the Taliban?
Oh, dear. That’s a line that only Glenn Beck would understand and Sarah Palin would repeat. If that is the level of commentary that the Washington Post thinks is fit to print, I know why they are in financial difficulty.
Isn’t it a shame that when a major news network finally makes an important appointment that begins to close the gender gap, an ignorant critic feels compelled to nit pick?
So much for Critic Shales. Maybe he’ll spend more of his time focusing on daytime soaps. That’s more up his alley. He should leave the serious stuff for grownups.
Tomorrow we’ll focus on Christiane...