David Muir is extremely familiar with the desk and the chair, and they’re officially becoming his on weeknights.
The anchor-reporter has filled in frequently for Diane Sawyer on the Monday-through-Friday shift, which will be his for keeps — also as managing editor — as “ABC World News Tonight With David Muir” starts Monday (Sept. 1).
Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Award winner Muir will continue as co-anchor of ABC’s Friday newsmagazine “20/20,” and he hopes to remain in the field with such franchises as “Made in America” … but he knows the job previously held by such icons as Peter Jennings and Sawyer is a very big deal with its own demands.
“It’s extremely humbling,” the pleasant Muir tells Zap2it. “Not a moment goes by that I don’t recognize the privilege afforded me to sit there every night and have a conversation with America. I remember watching, as a boy, Peter Jennings and guessing along with the rest of the audience who the ‘Person of the Week’ was going to be.”
Sawyer will focus on “big issues and extraordinary interviews” in her new role at ABC News, and Muir reflects that their professional relationship “might be singular in nature in this industry. Diane is an extraordinarily close friend of mine, but more than a friend, she’s a force.
“I dreamed of seeing the world one day, but never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d be traveling the world with Diane Sawyer. That’s what I’ve done for many years, and I have studied her. People reach out and want a hug from Diane Sawyer, and that’s a powerful thing. And if I can hold onto a fraction of that connection with the audience, that’s a great starting point.”
An admirer of the evening-news rivals he’ll be going up against regularly — CBS’ Scott Pelley and NBC’s Brian Williams — Ithaca (N.Y.) College graduate Muir first worked in Syracuse and then spent three years at Boston ABC affiliate WCVB before moving to the network as an anchor of the overnight “World News Now.”
Frequent on-site reporting has marked Muir’s ABC tenure over the past 11 years, and he wants that to continue.
“If I wasn’t out there, the job wouldn’t be as inviting for me,” he maintains. “I still am a reporter at my core. I remember the first report I did when Peter called me out in the field afterward. Just hearing ‘Peter’s holding on the line for you’ was enough to get my heart racing. And with the relationship I’ve built with viewers, I think they would wonder what happened to me if all of a sudden, they saw me only behind a desk.”