George Stephanopoulos: My Colleagues Worried If I Could Be 'Fair'

Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos admitted on Tuesday that, when he first started, even his fellow colleagues at ABC News wondered if he could be objective. Talking to Alec Baldwin for the actor's radio show Here's The Thing, he recounted how, in 1997, Ted Koppel "came to my office and looked me in the eye and asked me why I'm here and if I really felt I could, you know, do the job, be fair and be objective." 

Before joining the network, Stephanopoulos was a high profile operative Democratic operative, working for Bill Clinton, among others. Asked if those at ABC questioned whether he could be fair, Stephanopoulos replied, "Oh, definitely." 

The now-GMA host admitted, "Couldn't pretend that I wasn't a Democrat." He insisted, "I didn't worry" bout being fair. Stephanopoulos justified: 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And once I accepted that, as opposed to try and be the journalist – some journalists don't vote. And, you know, are so rigorous about, "we're not going to allow any part of our life to show that kind of choosing of one side or another." I sort of accepted that and then said that "my job is to analyze things and report on them and tell people, with the benefit of my experience, help them put all this into perspective and then they could go make up their own minds. And by not pretending that I was someone else, it freed me up inside. 

How objective is Stephanopoulos? Here's the This Week host describing who racists vote for: 

ABC's Sam Donaldson: '[Senator Barack Obama is] an African-American. Is the country ready? Well, I think it is. And he said he thinks it is. He said he thinks he'll lose some votes because of that, and so the question is, what does the word 'some' mean?....'
Moderator George Stephanopoulos: 'Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm naive, but Sam, I guess I think that anyone who's not going to vote for Barack Obama because he is black isn't going to vote for a Democrat anyway.'
— ABC's This Week, May 13, 2007.

For more examples, see the Media Research Center's Profile in Bias

A partial transcript of the March 3 Here's The Thing interview is below: 

[Talking about entering journalism and working for ABC.]

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And Charlie Gibson on that first day, was the inauguration coverage, gave me kind of a hard time. 

ALEC BALDWIN: Do you know why? Was it a rite of passage? 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah. Absolutely. I got it from all of them. I got it from Charlie a little bit. I got it from Ted Koppel, who once came to my office and looked me in the eye and asked me why I'm here and if I really felt I could, you know, do the job, be fair and be objective. 

BALDWIN: They were worried that you could be fair?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, Definitely. Got hazed a little bit by Peter. But they also gave me the chance to prove myself. 

BALDWIN: Right. And did you worry that you could be fair? 

STEPHANOPOULOS: I didn't worry about it, but I realized that it was the only way, if I was committed to doing this full time, it was the only way to do it. And I'll tell you what actually worked for me and this is probably different than people who grow up and begin their career as journalists, is I couldn't pretend that I didn't have personal opinions. 

BALDWIN: Sure. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Couldn't pretend that I wasn't a Democrat. 

BALDWIN: You had been paid for those political opinions. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. And once I accepted that, as opposed to try and be the journalist – some journalists don't vote. And, you know, are so rigorous about, "we're not going to allow any part of our life to show that kind of choosing one side or another." I sort of accepted that and then said, But my job is to analyze things and report on things and report on them and tell people, with the benefit of my experience, help them put all this into perspective and then they could go make up their own minds. And by not pretending that I was someone else, it freed me up inside. 

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