Spring is in the air, at last, and that rebirth is manifesting itself in this town via a number of high-profile succession storylines. First, Judy Woodruff, Washington’s grand dame of political news, is set to step down from the anchor desk of PBS’s NewsHour after the midterm elections, after carefully picking her successors, Amna Nawaz and Geoff Bennett. Woodruff, 75, has been a member of the Washington press corp since 1976 and a member of its ruling class more or less ever since. She was an O.G. PBS anchor, who co-hosted CNN’s Inside Politics with Bernard Shaw before boomeranging back to PBS full-time. She sits on the board of the Gridiron Club, where she was bouncing around during the super-spreader event this spring. Along with her husband, fellow beltway creature Al Hunt, she has become an icon of the exalted political journalist class.
Woodruff seems just as spry as her famous predecessor, Jim Lehrer, who stepped down from the same anchor chair at 78. She is planning to stay at the network in a role that hasn’t yet been determined, I’m told, and enjoys the full support of PBS’s all-female troika: chairwoman Sharon Rockefeller, C.E.O. Paula Kerger, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting C.E.O. Pat Harrison. Even though the plan is pretty much baked, there are still some fears in quiet corners of the network that the empowered Woodruff could reverse course and stay on. But a new studio is being built for Bennett and Nawaz, who will both host the hourly show in the tradition once carried out by Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, and Woodruff.
A PBS spokesperson responded, neither confirming nor denying the move, but instead stated, “We have a fantastic team at PBS NewsHour that continues to do outstanding work every day. We have a great deal of meaningful journalism planned for the future and that certainly includes Judy Woodruff, Amna Nawaz, Geoff Bennett and many others.”