Good Morning, George: Stephanopoulos' First Day at GMA

  • Publish Date: December 14, 2009
  • Comments: ↓ 0 user comments

It's early, but ...

ImageHow low can he go?

George Stephanopoulos finally completed his transition from senior White House advisor to morning show host on Monday, joining Robin Roberts as co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America." The former Rhodes scholar and Clinton administration staffer replaces Diane Sawyer, who will be taking over as anchor of ABC's "World News."

Although Stephanopoulos has been serving as the network's chief political correspondent and host of the Sunday morning political talk show "This Week,' GMA marks his first foray into the lighter side of news programming -- a move that could lend a bit more gravitas to the morning program, if it isn't a total misfire.

And how did his first day go? Critics were quick to weigh in on the matter. Here's a sampling:

Time's James Poniewozik could only bring himself to watch one hour of the program (that's one hour more than we watched), but found a segment about online shopping revealing:

Stephanopoulos needs to study up on dumbing it down... He seemed a bit strained at trying to play along. Asked, "You do much online shopping?" he sheepishly answered, "Mmmmmm, not so much." He went through the rest of the segment as if listening to the not-especially-interesting customs of a remote tribe.

What Poniewozik saw as discomfort, The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley saw as an encouraging sign that Stephanopoulos wouldn't lower himself for his new role. However, she noted a potential lack of chemistry between the show's hosts:

He was welcomed with fanfare by his co-host, Robin Roberts, but it wasn’t clear that the two have natural chemistry. Ms. Roberts, who was of a height with Ms. Sawyer, towers over the diminutive Mr. Stephanopoulos; their senses of humor seem equally unaligned. Ms. Roberts is more literal than funny and is given to outsize expressions of feeling. Mr. Stephanopoulos is reserved and permits himself small, sarcastic asides.

USA Today's Robert Bianco called Stephanopoulos' debut "glitch-free," adding:

He did nothing in his GMA debut Monday to make you think that he was incapable of carrying out the role, or that his very presence on the show might serve as a viewer deal breaker.

Other critics also reacted positively. Zap2It's Andrea Reiher found the new host "actually more likable than we were expecting him to be," the Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik described him as "pretty smooth and comfortable," and the New York Daily News' David Hinckley felt that the morning went "smoothly."

So there you have it. Failure averted, at least on day one.

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