Late last Friday, shortly after ABC News announced that GMA3 anchors T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach would be leaving the network, bringing an end to an elongated and salacious made-for-Page-Six spectacle regarding their extramarital affair, I received word about a rumor ricocheting through the news division. There was a widely held suspicion that Disney executives were considering relieving Kim Godwin, the ABC News chief, of her duties. The theory behind the speculation was that Godwin had fundamentally mismanaged a mini-scandal—that she’d moved indecisively in plotting Holmes and Robach’s punishment, which exacerbated a stupid daytime tabloid story into an unabating organization headache, frustrating colleagues, annoying senior management, and providing an unforced error at a time when Disney faces significant headaches and secular challenges.
As I’ve noted in the past, Godwin has her detractors at ABC, fairly or not. Some see her as slightly disengaged, promoting a work-life-balance credo that’s inconsistent with the sort of life-is-work mantra that has long defined the culture of TV news and catapulted the Jeff Zucker and Chris Lichts of the world from superproducers to C.E.Os. Also, of course, this is the province of endorphine-fueled aggrieved personalities—the denizens of a vanity business who often fear the worst, perhaps because they’ve seen it play out in the past. Regardless, it was hard not to feel some sympathy for Godwin. There isn’t a divisional president on Earth who would want to turn away from their onerous and various day-to-day responsibilities to manage an innocuous, consensual affair between two B-level talents.
But in the world of television news, especially late stage television news, that’s a part of the job, and many inside the industry, and inside the building, felt that Godwin avoided a decisive judgment at the expense of the news division’s broader reputation. At the very least, it was an endless distraction, an annoying pain in the neck.