Martin Bashir leaves "Nightline" joins MSNBC and "Dateline"
Martin Bashir is packing his bag of ratings and moving from his co-anchor chair at ABC News's "Nightline" to rival NBC News, where he will anchor a daily afternoon show on cabler MSNBC and contribute to "Dateline."
Bill Weir, who joined ABC News in 2004 and has worked as a reporter and a co-anchor of weekend "Good Morning America," is replacing Bashir on "Nightline, which has been getting strong ratings this season; joining the show's other co-anchors, Terry Moran and Cynthia McFadden.
Bashir starts with NBC News in September. He, of course, is the guy still best known for his ratings-magnet interview, "Living With Michael Jackson" which was purchased by ABC in 2003 and snared a stunning 27 million viewers in prime-time for the network. In that interview, Jackson talked to Bashir about sharing his bed with a young boy. Police investigated Jackson, the singer got slapped with those child-abuse charges, and Bashir got offered a full-time job at ABC News. He has co-anchored "Nightline" since October of 2005.
Bashir also conducted that attention-getting interview with Princess Diana, of which NBC notes, it "remains the only television interview with her," which it's probably safe to say won't change, given that she's dead.
"I am absolutely delighted to be joining MSNBC and NBC," Bashir said Wednesday in NBC's announcement.
"This is a rare and special opportunity - to host a daily news and current affairs show and also work on long-form journalism both at MSNBC and with 'Dateline.' This is an enormous privilege and I cannot wait to get started."
It's the first "Nightline" anchor switch since Ted Koppel left the show he launched - and also the first since ABC News president David Westin announced in late February the division would undergo a "fundamental transformation."
That transformation would, Westin said, include a push to "dramatically expand" its use of "digital journalists" who shoot and edit their own stories. Thursday, in an email to staffers, Westin noted that in Weir's travels for the division, coming under fire with American troops in Afghanistan, reporting on the rise and fall of General Motors, and looking into "the pursuit of happiness around the world," Weir "has been at the forefront of our adoption of all that new technology makes possible, often shooting his own material in the field and embracing new forms of reporting now possible in the digital world."
To the staff of ABC News, Bashir wrote, in a memo:
"I wanted to let you know, as my close working colleagues for a considerable period of time, that I will be joining MSNBC/NBC - to work in both daily and long-form journalism.
"Before I say anything more - I must acknowledge my debt of gratitude to each of you. It has been my privilege to partner with you at ABC and I shall forever be grateful for your professionalism, kindness and support. I do believe that we have always sought to reach for the very best in all our journalistic ventures.
"In the process, we have become more than colleagues - and so, even as I prepare to leave, I know that our friendship (which began six years ago) will continue into the future."
Lisa de Moraes
July 22, 2010; 11:53 AM ET
Categories: TV News
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