Christiane Out, George Back, Jake Stiffed

It’s official: Christiane Amanpour is out as host of This Week. That’s the good news. The other bit is… just more of the same.

Quite literally. George Stephanopoulos is returning to his old seat to resume hosting duties on January 8. So you’ll forgive me if my happy dance is a little subdued.

I can understand why Stephanopoulos wants back. The old Clinton hand was always a strange fit on GMA. He never seemed very comfortable in the role of genial morning host, trying to be taken Sunday-morning-seriously doing weekday-morning fluff. Did George think he was going to reinvent weekday morning news? Well, he didn’t.

Amanpour evidently thought she could reinvent the Sunday public affairs shows. But we’ve already gone into some detail about that, and I’d really rather not re-rehash her last 16 months of ick.

But what about Jake Tapper? He was a competent and confident host during his brief tenure, as Amanpour worked behind the scenes to rejigger the opening credits, the theme music, the format, and the guest roster. Tapper has been reporting from the White House and the campaign trails for years now. He has the experience. He has the Rolodex. Shouldn’t Jake have gotten the job? I felt so two years ago, and I feel the same way today.

There are only two reasonable objections I can imagine. One, Jake’s ratings were lower than Stephanopoulos’. Then again, audiences take time to warm up to new faces, and everybody knew Jake was temporary fill-in. Why tune in and get attached to someone who will be gone in a few weeks? Tapper never had the chance to build an audience, and viewers were never given a reason to invest in him. And that’s a shame.

The other objection is: Tapper is just too young for such a hefty job. Jake is almost exactly my age, 43 next spring. That’s not a whole lot of seasoning for the show that was once the gold standard for Sunday mornings. But Stephanopoulos took the job in 2002 — at about 41 years of age. But Stephanopoulos was an old Clinton hand. And Tapper never was.

Which is apparently enough to make all the difference in the world.