Tom Shales' attack on Christiane Amanpour in WashPost doesn't make much sense

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The Post TV critic sets his sights on CNN vet, and respected journalist, Amanpour who was recently hired by ABC News to take over as the host of its Sunday morning show, This Week. "It was a bad choice," writes Shales. But the objections he raises seem rather pointless.

He levels two key charges. First, right-wing partisan critics don't like Amanpour. And second, some anonymous ABC insiders are angry that the company hired from the outside.


I mean, who cares that the right-wing Media Research Center has a big, thick file to 'prove' how Amanpour is guilty of liberal bias? News flash: It didn't matter who ABC hired for the This Week job, MRC was going to object in it's predictable knee-jerk fashion. This is the-sun-rises-in-the-east type of stuff.

As for the complaints from ABC insiders, this is almost as predictable as MRC objecting to the Amanpour hire. The This Week host is a plum job, and in an ego-driven industry like celebrity news journalism, of course some people inside ABC are going to feel slighted. And of course they're going to find media outlets to broadcast their hurt feelings. (Anonymously, naturally.)

But is Shales honestly suggesting that ABC should re-think the Amanpour hire because it ruffled some feathers internally? And is Shales really suggesting that ABC re-think the Amanpour hire because MRC complained?

As I mentioned, Shales' objections seem pretty weak.

UPDATED: Shales writes that ABC News is practically being torn apart by Amanpour's arrival [emphasis added]:

As if outside opposition to Amanpour weren't enough, ABC News is practically in a state of internal revolt over her selection, according to such industry-watchers as TV Newser, which quotes ABC insiders as resenting Westin's hiring of a highly paid celebrity interloper for a job that many thought would go to White House correspondent Jake Tapper or to "Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran.

But if you go to TV Newswer, here is one of the only quotes from an ABC insider about Amanpour's hiring:

"In general, people are too demoralized to care," says a veteran ABC correspondent, speaking on condition of anonymity because he may be among those laid off if there aren't enough voluntary buyouts.

"The appointment of Amanpour is a sideshow," he continues. "The future of a Sunday morning talk show is trivial to people who believe they have no future at ABC News."

Does that sound like a newsroom consumed by "revolt"?

UPDATED: Salon's Greenwald weighs in:

In arguing why she's a "bad choice," Shales writes that "[s]upporters of Israel have more than once charged Amanpour with bias against that country and its policies," and adds: "A Web site devoted to criticism of Amanpour is titled, with less than a modicum of subtlety, 'Christiane Amanpour's Outright Bias Against Israel Must Stop,' available via Facebook." Are these "charges" valid? Is this "Web site" credible? Does she, in fact, exhibit anti-Israel bias? Who knows? Shales doesn't bother to say. In fact, he doesn't even bother to cite a single specific accusation against her; apparently, the mere existence of these complaints, valid or not, should count against her.

Shales' attack on Amanpour really does seem like a classic cheap shot.

UPDATED: The Times' Paul Krugman adds that Shales' attack is "weird" and "distinctly off."

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