Diane Sawyer, the sole female evening-news anchor on television, said goodbye to the “ABC World News” desk Wednesday night with very little fanfare.
Although the network said earlier this summer that Sawyer was stepping down, ABC didn’t announce a departure date. Then, Sawyer tweeted a farewell Wednesday afternoon:
See you tonight for my last night anchoring @ABCWorldNews – great adventures ahead !
— Diane Sawyer (@DianeSawyer) August 27, 2014
“20/20″ anchor David Muir will take over Sept. 2, though Sawyer will still be a frequent presence on ABC. As the network noted when it revealed the anchor change, it was Sawyer’s idea to leave “World News” — she’ll now devote her energy to reporting for major interviews, specials and events.
“As much as she loved leading ‘World News’ to new heights…Diane decided that now is the moment to concentrate full time on tackling big issues in new ways,” said ABC News President James Goldston.
So even though she’s not really saying goodbye, it’s still a major changing of the guard. The evening news desk universe — despite falling audience numbers over the years, it’s one of the most prestigious jobs in television — is now entirely male. Brian Williams anchors “NBC Nightly News,” and Scott Pelley is at “CBS Evening News.”
Sawyer has anchored “World News” since 2009, taking over for Charles Gibson. Before Gibson, Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff were co-anchors; Peter Jennings was behind the desk for two decades until 2005.
On Wednesday evening’s show, Sawyer went through the broadcast as usual. At the end, there was a quick behind-the-scenes segment about how “World News” is created every day, and then, her personal statement. Here’s a transcript of her farewell:
And now it is time to say good night. And I just want you to know what a deep privilege it has been to sit in the anchor chair at “World News” these years, the flagship broadcast of ABC, where Peter Jennings created a signature of such curiosity and courage.
It has been wonderful to be the home port for the brave and brilliant forces of ABC News around the world and to feel every single night you and I were in a conversation about the day together. Sometimes, as we know, there have been tough stories on “World News,” but you always made it clear, like me, you believe better will come, that the future is one of possibility. And there has been so much to celebrate here as well — connections, community, America, and the generosity of our neighbors next door. I want you to know none of that will change. “World News” is dedicated to what informs you and we always hope helps make your life better.
And on a personal note: As I said, I’m not going far — down the hall, up the stairs. And I am not slowing down but gearing up in in a new way, already at work on some of the stories that take you into the real lives around us, the ones we rarely get to see. Starting next week, the anchor and managing editor, David Muir, will be right here. He is my friend and you are in strong and steady hands.
So one last time, it is good to know you are watching tonight. To Mike and the four grandchildren and their perfect parents, I look forward to being home early for some dinners again. And with gratitude for these years, I thank you and I’ll see you right back here on ABC News very soon. Good night.