Not surprisingly, the country’s top newsies came out in support of their own last week, heaping opprobrium on the Mouse House for its treatment of Ted Koppel and decrying the encroachment of entertainment into their sanctum.
ABC correspondent Sam Donaldson, joining his news brethern March 13 for the annual awards dinner of the Radio & Television News Directors Foundation in D.C., was in his element, lambasting his bosses for essentially selling the news division’s soul by looking to dump Koppel’s “Nightline” in favor of David Letterman
Donaldson suggested the net and parent Disney refer to the Bible, specifically, Matthew 16:26 — “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
In other words, it’s understandable that net toppers would want to boost ratings, but it’s dangerous to sacrifice a sacrosanct news show such as “Nightline.”
Koppel sat not far from the dais, and received a standing ovation when Donaldson happily reported that “Nightline” was still a part of the ABC news line-up — at least for now.
ABC correspondent Cokie Roberts, whose fate also has been making headlines, was at the dinner to present Donaldson a First Amendment award.
Roberts, who has long co-hosted Sunday gabber “This Week” with Donaldson, announced recently that she’ll depart the show when her contract is up this fall.
Roberts insisted she was already planning to leave the show and that she wasn’t being pushed out to make way for younger talent. But even she couldn’t ignore the recent tumult and the night’s ironies.
“What a great time to have this moment. We needed it,” Roberts said. “And we will all be back next year.”