Whatever his skills as a network television talent, George Stephanopoulos strikes us as the wrong person to be fronting a competitive network morning show. Nonetheless, Stephanopoulos is the talent ABC has tapped to co-host "Good Morning America" with Robin Roberts, starting Monday, Dec. 14. Stephanopoulos replaces Diane Sawyer, who, as everyone knows by now, ascends to the anchor job on ABC's "World News," starting Dec. 21. JuJu Chang also joins "GMA" as news anchor, while Chris Cuomo departs the show to co-host ABC's news magazine "20/20" with Elizabeth Vargas and to serve as the network's chief law and justice correspondent.
In the years Stephanopoulous has hosted "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," the new "GMA" co-host always struck us as an exceedingly stiff talent with a very limited sense of humor. He has always seemed to strain to appear authoritative and informed, though his tense manner suggested to us he was anything but an authority on whatever he was addressing. Certainly, Stephanopoulos will have to morph into something he shows no sign of being right now to become a credible "GMA" co-host with the immensely amiable, easy-going Robin Roberts.
ABC can ill-afford to have chosen the wrong person for the key "GMA" assignment. The network has been trying for a long time to overtake NBC's No. 1-rated "Today Show." If the ratings start to fall with Stephanopoulos on board at "GMA," it could take a long time to repair the damage -- especially if the network were forced to dump Stephanopoulos and start over again. Picking the right talent for a show is, granted, an in-exact science. We just hope ABC sees something in Stephanopoulos that we have missed up to now.