Charles Gibson signs off as ABC news anchor: Farewells from Presidents and Kermit the Frog

Charles Gibson anchored ABC World News for the final time this evening. Heading into retirement after 34 years, Gibson started the broadcast by saying that he was pleased that in his last night as anchor he had three strong stories to report on: a U.S.-led attack on Al-Qaeda members in Yemen, an imminent snowstorm on the Northeast coast of America, and details about the international climate conference being held in Copenhagen.

Gibson delivered these stories with his usual, admirable straightforwardness… in roughly ten minutes’ time. The rest of the half-hour was taken up with soft-news stories such as an American father’s custody battle for his son living in Brazil. Whenever I watch the evening TV news — and it’s not often; I’m like most Americans in that regard — I’m struck anew at how little hard news there is on these shows. It’s not Gibson’s fault. This is the way the nightly newscasts have headed for years now, cluttering up their time with heart-tugging non-news and “people of the week”-ish, feel-good junk.

As for Gibson, he served his time at the anchor desk as well as anyone, and before that, was a calm, civilizing influence as co-host of Good Morning America.

On this night, ABC World News concluded with a bunch of taped tributes to Gibson by what seemed a pretty random assortment of people, from former Presidents Clinton, Carter, and both Bushes, to Whoopi Goldberg and novelist John Irving. And non-people, such as Kermit the Frog. For all I know, maybe Gibson was friends with all of these people (and Kermit); the effect was both sweet and a little odd. When the taped salute ended with kind words from President Obama, we were back in the World News studio with what looked like the show’s entire staff, applauding Charlie. Ever polite, he applauded the staff.

It was a nice way to go into retirement.

I’m curious: Do you watch the evening news?

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  • Caroline

    I watched this, and I thought it was a very sweet way to say goodbye to someone who retired.

    • Caroline

      By the way, I’m still in high school, and I watch evening news every night. I’m probably the only one in my school who does, though.

    • BLINKONE

      Ken Tucker are you insane? How is a story about a father trying to regain his kidnap son from international kidnappers a soft story. The story is totally relavant to anyone who is married or planning to become involve with a foreign nationalist. Your heart must be made of stone.

    • Melissa Megan

      Why did he hate Diane, bbwloversmatch

  • PMD

    I am in my 20′s and I, unlike most of my peers, watch the evening news religiously. If I know I am going to be late I will DVR it. Being a recent International Relations and Public Policy graduate I am quite informed and read the NYT.com and other internet news religiously, so I know most of the stuff reported on the evening news, but it doesn’t stop me from watching it. When I was younger my dad and I would watch the news together, so it is kind of a ritual. On a similar note, I do not read any newspapers, although my parents have various subscriptions, I just read the news via the websites. I also never tune into CNN or any other 24 hour news cycle. I hate them all with a passion.

    We have always watched ABC News but I am not a big fan of Diane Sawyer so I think I will make the switch to Brian Williams. But I am going to give her a few weeks.

    I really do hate the increasing fluff on the evening news. If I wanted to watch human interests stories I would watch the Today show all day. Ugghhhh. I hate human interest stories in general.

  • Robin

    Indeed Charlie did have a relation ship with the muppets–he appeared in a sesame Christmas special, and Kermit the Frog appeared several times on GMA. I have watched for Charlie Gibson for as long as I can remember. It is like saying goodbye to a family member.

    • Beth

      I agree. Muppets were often on GMA with him.

      Charlie always had that “grandfatherly” appeal. He was businesslike, but very professional. You felt like he was approachable.

      I remember watching him interview a little boy on GMA and he climbed onto the floor to play with him to comfort him during the interview. I don’t think it was the journalist Charlie Gibson on that floor, it was the man, the grandfather, the dad comforting him.

      I haven’t enjoyed GMA without him, and won’t enjoy the news as much either, but I am happy that he gets to retire to enjoy his family.

  • Scott Pearson

    I’ve spent 2/3 of my life watching Charlie Gibson – I remember his first day on GMA (both times). He is like a member of the family and I’m certainly going to miss him. Enjoy your retirement and thanks for being part of my life.

  • mel

    It was a nice sendoff and I wish him luck.

  • Elizabeth

    I have watched Charlie Gibson for my entire life and hated it when they replaced him the first time on GMA and was happy when they realized their mistake and brought back. I loved him as the nightly anchor and I will miss him greatly. Very paternal presence. I wish him the best in his retirement!

  • Silv

    I watched Charlie whenever possible. I’ve watched him since he was on GMA the first time around. He’s a true journalist and a true gentleman, and I’m going to miss him.

  • Kimmie G

    I thoroughly enjoy watching the nightly news, though I watch NBC’s with Brian Williams. I agree that the feel-good stuff is taking up too much time in the newscasts. I’d rather have the half hour full of harder-hitting information and real news stories.

  • PChiChibu

    Charlie was my favorite of all the evening anchors. I’m going to miss him saying he hoped I had a good day.

  • UnHoly Diver

    I missed it; wish I hadn’t. I knew Charlie back in the mid to late 60′s, when he and my father worked together at the local ABC affiliate on both TV and radio(he did the news, my father did the sports, and had his own AM radio show). One of the genuinely nicest guys I ever met.

  • Eric

    I’m 29, and I’ve been watching the evening news for probably 20 years. I remember seeing the Berlin Wall fall but not really understand its implications or other world events, but there was something always comforting and informative about the hosts and the reports.

    • randy

      I am glad the sanctimonious Gibson has left. After that disdainful, disrespectful display (with glasses on schnozola)…I lost all respect for HIM. Good riddance to another left winger news prostitute. That’s my opinion.

      • randy

        that was the time interviewing of sarah palen

      • PMD

        Well than I am glad Fox news exists for fools like you.

  • BLT

    i watch the evening news and have always preferred ABC. Thank you, Charles Gibson. You will be missed.

  • Gwen

    We’ve watched the CBS Evening News since the days of Walter Cronkite. I for one am happy to see the occasional story that you dismiss as “feel-good junk” – in these times of economic crisis, looming international threats and war, I find it refreshing to hear about ordinary Americans who exemplify what the American spirit should be and often isn’t.

  • Rahul

    After Charlie Gibson’s retirement I will probably stop watch the evening news.

  • Belle

    Charlie was refreshing to watch. He was able to obtain a story without sensationalizing it. He is a man of character & I will miss him.

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