Disney boss Bob Iger flew cross-country earlier this year to broker a deal with ABC star George Stephanopoulos after he threatened to leave the network amid growing tensions between him and rising rival David Muir, it has been claimed.
According to anonymous industry sources cited by CNN, Stephanopoulos was irate when Muir was given the responsibility of leading the network’s special coverage of breaking news stories and special events – a role Stephanopoulos has held since 2014.
Earlier this year, when he found out that the Chief Anchor responsibilities were being handed over to Muir, 47, even though the title wasn’t, he threatened to walk, according to the sources.
Muir had actually been given the extra duties two years ago but was told he’d have to wait until after 2020, when Stephanopoulos’ commitments were winding down.
When Stephanopoulos discovered it earlier this year, he is said to have been irate.
Iger, Disney’s executive chairman, flew across the country from California to New York to broker peace.
As a result of the negotiations, Muir will keep the responsibility of leading special coverage and Stephanopoulos will be given a production company by Disney, where he can produce content with his wife Ali Wentworth.
According to anonymous industry sources cited by CNN, George Stephanopoulos (L) was irate when David Muir (R) was given the responsibility of leading the network’s special coverage of breaking news stories and special events – a role he has held since 2014.
He will also help produce content for Hulu and National Geographic, both of which Disney owns, and will lead breaking news coverage in the mornings, before or after Good Morning America. Neither man will hold the Chief Anchor title.
‘This was a deal he jumped at. This is a way to build to the future,’ one source said.
Disney CEO Bob Iger had to fly across the country to convince Stephanopoulos to stay, according to the sources
‘They found a way to have two big stars,’ one of the sources said.
The rivalry between the two men dates back to 2014 when Muir replaced Diane Sawyer on what was then known as ABC World News. It is now called World News Tonight.
‘This was always going to blow up at some point,’ one of the sources said.
At the time, the World News anchor role was the most coveted in the organization and whoever filled it was considered top dog.
Stephanopoulos was already hosting GMA and was leading it to enormous commercial success but wanted the World News Tonight role.
GMA was becoming the network’s focus instead of the evening broadcast. Stephanopoulos stayed on the morning schedule and Muir, then 40, was given the World News anchor job.
He was considerably less experienced than Stephanopoulos at the time, so the Chief Anchor role went to the latter, as did the higher salary.
In a Mediaite report that year, Muir’s salary was put at $5million but it is likely to have gone up considerably since then, especially given the show’s stellar ratings; it was the most watched nightly news-cast in 2019 – 2020.
Stephanopoulos re-signed with the network in 2019 on a four-year deal that gives him an annual salary of $15million.
Now, sources say it is Muir’s time to step up.
Stephanopoulos was already a star in the worlds of politics and media when he joined ABC in 1997 after serving as White House Director of Communications for Bill Clinton. He is shown being interviewed by Jay Leno that year
One of Stephanopoulos’ earliest jobs with the network was on This Week. He is shown with Bill Kristol, Clarence Page, George Will, Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts that year
Muir has quietly and gradually become the face of ABC’s News Division over the last few years and was waiting in the wings for Stephanopoulos’ commitments to wind down, according to the sources. He is shown interviewing Former President Donald Trump last year
‘David hated being sidelined until 6:30,’ one said. Another said: ‘ABC asked him to step up.’
Two years ago, Muir quietly re-signed a contract and agreed to wait his turn to fill the bigger role.
Stephanopoulos had also agreed to stay on and had agreed to give up Chief Anchor role in some vague capacity but only under the condition that it did not go to anyone else.
When he found out that Muir was going to be given the responsibilities of it even without the title, he is said to have felt betrayed.
ABC News President James Goldston stepped down earlier this year and his deputy, Barbara Fedida, left the network last year amid a scandal over racially insensitive comments she made.
It left Iger and Peter Rice, Disney’s chairman of general entertainment content, to handle the fallout between Stephanopoulos and Muir this year.
Representatives for the pair at ABC did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiries on Tuesday morning.