Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer to Fill in for Injured Woodruff
2/1/2006 3:49 PM PT
By DAVID BAUDER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK -- ABC will announce Wednesday that Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, two of its best-known journalists, will fill in on "World News Tonight" for anchorman Bob Woodruff as he recovers from injuries suffered in a roadside bombing.
ABC News President David Westin will tell his news division of the plan later in the day, said an executive there who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Gibson and Sawyer will take turns as partners to Elizabeth Vargas, who became co-anchor of the evening newscast with Woodruff last month. There was no immediate word on how that would affect their roles as anchors on "Good Morning America."
Westin is committed to his revamped version of "World News Tonight," which includes an afternoon Webcast, live feeds to the West Coast and frequent reporting visits to world hotspots by the anchors.
Woodruff was on one of those trips to Iraq when he was seriously injured Sunday.
The 44-year-old journalist was slowlybeing brought out of sedation Wednesday at a Navy hospital inMaryland where he was flown for treatment the night before.Military doctors and Woodruff's brother David said his conditionwas improving by the day.
"He moved his legs and his arms againwhen they got him into the Bethesda hospital. He attempted to openhis eyes, and that can't be anything but good," David Woodruff saidon "Good Morning America."
He said his brother was coming out of "areally bad place" but showing signs of recovery.
Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt werefilming a report on the Iraqi military and standing in the hatch ofan Iraqi military vehicle when the bomb exploded Sunday. They weretreated in Iraq, then taken to a U.S. military base in Germany andfinally airlifted Tuesday to the United States along with 15 otherpatients aboard a C-17 military plane.
Lt. Col. Guillermo Tellez, chief ofsurgery at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany wherethe men were treated, said that while Woodruff faced a longrehabilitation, doctors were hopeful he could return to hisjob.
"We are all very optimistic that he willbe able to resume most of the daily life and the functions that hehad before," Tellez told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We'recertainly hoping that he will be able to get back to hisprofessional life."
ABC reported Wednesday that Woodruff wasslowly being brought out of sedation at the National Naval MedicalCenter in Bethesda, and that Vogt, 46, was talking. The networksaid that the military recommended taking the men to the Navyhospital and that ABC was paying for their care.
Doctors at the Bethesda hospital haveaccess to specialized equipment that can treat penetrating headwounds, hospital spokeswoman Ellen Maurer said. Either the NavalMedical Center or Walter Reed Army Medical Center is typically thefirst American stop for soldiers, sailors and Marines wounded inIraq.
Westin said he was optimistic aboutWoodruff's and Vogt's recovery.
"We are very encouraged overall for theboth of them," he said. "The signs Bob is showing are as good asthey can expect from this type of injury. He's doing better thanall of us expected."
Gibson, 63, had been considered apotential replacement for the late Peter Jennings on "World NewsTonight," but he and Westin couldn't agree last fall on how long hewould be doing the job. The news division president consideredWoodruff and Vargas, both in their 40s, a longer-termsolution.