George Stephanopoulos falls out as rival David Muir takes over ABC election night

As ABC News covers the momentous 2022 midterm elections Tuesday night, its live desk will feature one notable absence: George Stephanopoulos.

ABC’s main political anchor and host of both Good morning America and In this week will not be involved with the TV network’s nightly coverage, having helmed it in both 2018 and 2020, according to a press release last week. Election night coverage is instead spearheaded by World news tonight Anchor David Muir.

The change has left some ABC News staff baffled, with several noting to The Daily Beast that Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton White House aide and longtime political pundit, is considered one of television’s most famous political journalists.

Additionally, Stephanopoulos’ absence appears to mark a win for Muir in a long-running behind-the-scenes feud between the rival ABC News stars.

Asked for comment on his notable absence from ABC News’ election nightstand on Tuesday afternoon, Stephanopoulos told The Daily Beast that he’s “signed a new contract and that’s my focus.” He declined to comment further when asked if his absence had anything to do with Muir. Neither ABC News nor Muir responded to a request for comment.

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This shift at ABC comes amid a reportedly acrimonious back-and-forth between the two top anchors at Disney’s own news department. Stephanopoulos reportedly threatened to go to a rival network last year over tensions with Muir. CNN reported that ABC was so keen to placate Stephanopoulos that then-Disney Chairman Bob Iger and his Disney colleague Peter Rice personally flew from Burbank to New York to offer him a lucrative contract extension and keep the peace.

The dispute revolved around the title of ‘chief anchor’ previously held by Stephanopoulos. With that title, and despite Muir’s ever-growing role in anchoring ABC’s news coverage, Stephanopoulos oversaw coverage of the outlet’s special events, including the 2018 and 2020 elections, while Muir focused on hosting World news tonight.

According to CNN, after eventually giving up the title, Stephanopoulos was upset to find out that Muir was taking on special reports in addition to his nightly newscasts Position that serves as the “main anchor” in virtually all but the name.

To keep Stephanopoulos from accusing him of breach of contract and leaving the network, ABC gave him the lucrative new deal along with breaking news reporting duties and a new production company. Muir inherited special reporting duties, such as overseeing 2022 election night coverage.

Of course, such shifts in tasks are not unusual for news broadcasters. CNN has made a public spectacle of passing the torch to Jake Tapper of longtime election night company Wolf Blitzer, who will not anchor the cable channel’s voting table for the first time since 2004.

ABC was much quieter about its changing of the guard. The network’s only mention of Stephanopoulos was in the tenth paragraph of its 11-paragraph press release, mentioning his involvement in ABC’s “Power Trip” docuseries.

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