One has to wonder how the execs at ABC News took this news earlier today. They had an opportunity to put Jake Tapper on This Week, but instead tried Christiane Amanpour in a badly conceived experiment despite Tapper’s highly regarded guest hosting efforts, and then moved former Bill Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos into the slot when Amanpour flopped. When CNN had the same opportunity after the departure of Candy Crowley, they didn’t let history repeat itself:
Jake Tapper is the next anchor of CNN’s Sunday morning political interview program “State of the Union.”
CNN announced Tapper’s promotion on Friday morning. He will take over the program in June; he’ll remain the channel’s chief Washington correspondent and the anchor of the weekday afternoon newscast “The Lead.”
Among his peers, Tapper is seen as an authority on politics, something a program like “State of the Union” demands. He received rave reviews when he was the interim anchor of ABC’s Sunday morning hour “This Week” in 2010.
Oddly, though, those rave reviews didn’t keep ABC News from poaching Amanpour from CNN, and then passing over Tapper from the ranks of their journalists to give the seat to a partisan analyst in Stephanopoulos. It didn’t take Tapper long to land at CNN after that (around two years), and he’s done impressive work in a late-afternoon slot.
CNN’s making the smart move here, and it’s almost impossible to believe that this wasn’t the plan all along. The timing is also fortuitous. While NBC reboots Meet the Press and CBS has its own transition on Face the Nation, CNN has a chance with Tapper to reset all the expectations on Sunday morning … and give ABC execs some indigestion, too. It’s a great choice, but it’s also so obvious that not taking it would have been just as mystifying as ABC’s decision in 2011.