Curious George Stephanopoulos

George Stephanopoulos
Some of Stephanopoulos’s friends and longtime colleagues have wondered whether this was a gaffe or simply his subconscious attempt to reckon with his frustrations as a concerned American institutionalist? Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
July 10, 2024

On Tuesday afternoon, the ever-disciplined, often soft-spoken, and normally besuited veteran politico and newsman George Stephanopoulos was marauding up Fifth Avenue in a t-shirt and gym shorts when he was accosted by a passerby, who sought to extemporaneously follow up on the anchor’s recent newsmaking interview with embattled president Joe Biden. So, this passerby wanted to know, did George think the president should step down? “I don’t think he can serve four more years,” Stephanopoulos casually responded. In a matter of minutes, the secretly taped footage was furnished to TMZ.

In light of the national fervor over Biden’s disastrous debate performance, two weeks ago, Stephanopoulos’s gaffe struck a nerve. Through a spokesperson, he told me he “shouldn’t have” responded to his interlocutor. Meanwhile, his network distanced itself from what it stressed was their $20 million dollar-a-year anchor’s “own point of view.” But it was obvious to everyone that George had meant what he’d said and that it was indeed yet another meaningful vote of no confidence in the president—not just from someone who had recently sat down with him in person, but from a 30-year veteran journalist and former Democratic White House senior advisor and de facto press secretary who has deep respect for the office and the institution.