“ABC World News Tonight” anchor David Muir is being nicknamed “Anchor Monster” by network staffers after repeatedly losing his temper with his crew over being beaten in the ratings by his rival, NBC’s Lester Holt.
Muir’s heavily hyped big interview with Hillary Clinton — in which she finally apologized for using personal e-mail — tanked on Wednesday night as Muir’s newscast was clobbered by rival “NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt.” NBC averaged 8.3 million total viewers over ABC’s 7.3 million.
Industry insiders point out that Muir had to do the interview because ABC political top dog George Stephanopoulos couldn’t quiz Hillary after his donation to the Clinton Foundation was revealed, sparking questions about his impartiality. ABC insists Stephanopoulos will still lead their 2016 coverage.
Muir’s “big get” with Pope Francis also disappointed last week. Friday’s heavily promoted “20/20” special featuring Muir and the pope was only neck-and-neck with a repeat of NBC’s “Dateline.” On Monday, “World News Tonight” aired segments from Muir’s papal session, but the ABC broadcast again trailed NBC by nearly a million viewers — with a little more than 8.01 million compared to NBC’s average of 9 million. NBC says “Nightly News” has been No. 1 in total viewers all 11 weeks since Holt was officially named anchor.
An ABC source tells us, “Despite the biggest ‘get’ in the world — the pope — David is still losing to Lester. David feels under pressure and returned to New York from Rome cranky and has been lashing out at the staff. He screams at the crew unless [ABC News President] James Goldston is around. On an open mike he was heard complaining he wanted less of the reporters’ voices and more of his own during the pope town hall. He’s becoming known as ‘Anchor Monster.’”
An ABC rep countered, “This is ridiculous, as David is one of the kindest people in the building. Fresh off his historic exclusive with Pope Francis and interview with Hillary Clinton, he remains focused on the viewers and what comes next.”