Emotional last day on the job for Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer exited ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday with an emotional moment that recalled the biggest story of her time on the show: meeting the children born after their fathers were killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Diane Sawyer

NEW YORK — Diane Sawyer exited ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday with an emotional moment that recalled the biggest story of her time on the show: meeting the children born after their fathers were killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It was a sobering interlude during a nostalgic two hours of video clips, celebrity goodbyes and tearful hugs. The morning news show devoted almost its entire broadcast to a salute to Sawyer, who is replacing her retiring former partner, Charles Gibson, as World News anchor.

The reunion of 9/11 children recalled how “Good Morning America” brought them together as babies on the first anniversary of the attack. The twin girls that Sawyer held in both arms that day, now 8, walked on the set carrying roses.

“Thank you and bless you,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer will be replaced by ABC’s chief Washington correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, on Monday. He was all business during his first appearance on the set Friday, contributing to a story about five Americans with alleged terrorist links who were detained in Pakistan.

In a slightly awkward moment, Stephanopoulos was congratulated by Chris Cuomo, the newsreader who was also considered for the anchor job. It was Cuomo’s last morning, too. He is to become 20/20 co-anchor and will be replaced on Good Morning America by Juju Chang.

The rest of the show was all about Sawyer, brought in to GMA with Gibson in January 1999 when it was in a ratings free-fall. What was expected to be a temporary hitch turned into nearly 11 years.

“My heart is smiling, and the privilege of sharing my mornings with all of you has been more than I can say,” she said.

With the group hugs and inside jokes, the quartet of Sawyer, co-anchor Robin Roberts, Cuomo and weather forecaster Sam Champion tried to emphasize the “family” aspect of a morning show so crucial to hooking viewers. The song We Are Family played in the background to drive the point home.

ABC aired a clip package of Sawyer’s news reports — starting with Kabul, Afghanistan, where NBC rival Matt Lauer was this week. ABC said that Sawyer had flown some 346,205 miles while on the show, or nearly 14 times around the world.

There was also the now-expected package of morning show bloopers and oddball moments: Sawyer frying chicken with Aretha Franklin; dancing with John Travolta; riding a camel and hearing Bruce Willis confess of his longtime crush on her.

Former President George Bush taped a tribute, and Sawyer recalled covering his campaign for president.

Late-night comics David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon offered some jokes. “I don’t know why they fired you,” Kimmel said.

Roberts offered a champagne toast at the end.

“The best part of your life is when your family becomes your friends and your friends become your family,” she said.

Just Posted

Central Alberta women donate grad dresses to families in need

Cha-ching – it’s grad season. Some central Alberta women know first hand… Continue reading

Red Deer man pleads guilty to role in 2015 stabbing

Daniel Boyd Sawyer sentenced in Calgary court to five years in prison for manslaughter

Photo: Celebrating Mother Earth in Red Deer

Women of all ages gathered to mark Earth Day

Man dead in ATV collision in central Alberta

The Rocky Mountain House RCMP are investigating a quad rollover collision that… Continue reading

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand “a roof too”

PARIS — Dozens of public housing advocates are protesting outside the gutted… Continue reading

Sri Lankan-Canadians mourn victims of terrorist attack in their homeland

Sri Lankan-Canadians were gathering Monday to mourn those killed in a massive… Continue reading

Residents along Saint John River told to remain on alert as floodwaters rise

FREDERICTON — People who live along New Brunswick’s Saint John River are… Continue reading

Prince Edward Island voters to cast verdict on new electoral system

CHARLOTTETOWN — Canadians are expected to learn late Tuesday whether the cradle… Continue reading

Early, photogenic iceberg raises expectations for Newfoundland’s season

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — This historic port city welcomed an unexpected early… Continue reading

Captain Ghislaine Landry leads Canada to victory at Kitakyushu Sevens

KITAKYUSHU, Japan — Captain Ghislaine Landry scored with no time remaining and… Continue reading

Marchand scores twice as Bruins force a seventh game with 4-2 win over Leafs

TORONTO — After a flying start in front of a raucous home… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan’s royal baby: Questions asked and answered

LONDON — The time is drawing near for the impending birth of… Continue reading

Prince memoir ‘The Beautiful Ones’ coming out in the fall

NEW YORK — The memoir Prince was working on at the time… Continue reading

Most Read