Sam Donaldson, a fixture in the presidential press corps for more than a decade, is stepping down as ABC News's daily White House correspondent.
The man whose dogged pursuit of American presidents turned him into a TV news celebrity will retain the title of chief White House correspondent and do occasional reporting but will relinquish day-to-day coverage to an as-yet unnamed replacement, said ABC News spokeswoman Eileen Murphy in New York.
"He's had three full-time jobs here--chief White House correspondent, '20/20' anchor and 'This Week With Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts'--those are three pretty big gigs," Murphy said late yesterday.
The 65-year-old Donaldson will keep his job on "This Week" and has not decided whether to stay on with "20/20," she said.
Murphy said Donaldson's recent throat surgery to remove a benign polyp had "absolutely nothing" to do with his decision, and that the changes reflect his desire to focus on fewer things.
Donaldson covered the White House from 1977 to 1989 and returned there in January 1998 to lead ABC's coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
His departure is part of a mini-exodus of White House correspondents in recent weeks. In July, Scott Pelley left his post as CBS News White House reporter after two years to become a correspondent on "60 Minutes II," and last month Wolf Blitzer left CNN's White House beat after seven years covering the Bush and Clinton administrations to take on other duties.