A Candid Conversation with ABC News Anchor David Muir
We read their words, hear their voices and see their faces. But how well do we know the people who connect us to the world?
As part of Castle’s biweekly Media Monday, Sheila Green, our vice president of media and community relations (otherwise known as our human rolodex), gets the scoop on the men and women responsible for keeping us up to date on current events.
Who are they? What makes them tick? What do they do when not behind the keyboard or on the air?
Meet David Muir
David Muir, the Emmy Award-winning anchor of ABC World News Tonight, came to Boston last week to speak to a group of students from the BU School of Journalism and meet with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. He finished the day anchoring World News Tonight live from Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston.
I had an opportunity for a brief one-on-one conversation with him before the event began. Below are some highlights of my conversation with David.
On his next big story:
He’ll be traveling to South Africa to report on the famine that is affecting 20 million people across Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria. David said that we often get so lost in the news coming out of Washington, D.C., that we forget about issues and events that have a significant impact on so many people worldwide.
On what constitutes “news”:
As David is the Managing Director of World News Tonight, I asked him how he decides what to report on each night. He said that he thinks about his parents and asks himself, “What they would like to know?” He also said that he strives to educate viewers about events that are happening around the globe, not just here in the United States. His job, he said, is “to ask the difficult questions, especially when people are feeling scared and concerned.” David also told me that he is particularly proud of the success of his nightly “Made in America” segments on World News Tonight. (Two companies from New England, L.L. Bean and Joseph Abboud, were recently featured on “Made in America”).
On being a news anchor:
David admitted the day-to-day logistics and travel can be difficult, especially when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. He told me that in his line of work “sleep is an option,” especially since he often does World News Tonight and Good Morning America in a 24-hour cycle.
Once the Chamber of Commerce event began, David sat down with WCVB-TV News Anchor Maria Stephanos for a one-on-one conversation. He opened by talking about how happy he was to come back to Boston after 14 years away. After starting his broadcast career with WTVH-TV in his hometown of Syracuse, New York, he took a job as a reporter at WCVB-TV Channel 5 before moving on to ABC headquarters in New York City in 2003. After 11 years of reporting and anchoring on World News Now, Primetime and 20/20, in 2014 David became the evening news anchor on World News Tonight following Diane Sawyer’s retirement.
The conversation quickly turned to Washington, D. C. and the media’s continuing coverage of the political landscape.
“After the election, many in the media thought they could catch a breath. Not a chance,” he said. “And, based on what is happening in Washington, D.C., now is an important time for journalism.” From his perspective, Donald Trump won the election because he and connected with people on a level that Hillary Clinton was unable to do.
David also shared insights about his first interview with President Trump. It was fascinating to hear him talk about the amount of preparation that went into that interview, from the line of questioning to the format to the location – which changed at the last minute.
The interview was originally supposed to begin with a tour of the White House, but the Trump Administration changed the schedule so that the interview was first. This seemingly insignificant change put an enormous amount of pressure on David and his team, as that meant the tour was predicated on the success of the interview. Despite the adjustment, he forged ahead with the interview without changing his tone or style – and he still got the tour. The night the interview aired the ABC News team tweeted the interview, which President Trump later retweeted. All in all, David said that he felt the interview was a success.
David also spoke about the danger of “fake news,” a phrase that has weaseled its way into almost every political conversation. As a reporter, he said, you have to have thick skin and follow the facts because life is unpredictable and so is the news. “The facts are the facts. There is no set of alternative facts,” he said.
Did you know?
David is fluent in Spanish and Arabic. When he secured an interview with Pope Francis, he did the entire interview in Spanish.