Television reporter-critic Alessandra Stanley analyzed long-time CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour's first outing as host of ABC's Sunday morning political roundtable "This Week."
While MRC's Tim Graham caught even liberal critic Tom Shales of the Washington Post faulting Amanpour's first Sunday appearance, and Brent Baker found her approach to politics condescending and overly sympathetic toward the plight of liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Stanley was quite welcoming in her review on the front of Monday's Arts section.
Her piece, and the accompanying headline, credited peripatetic reporter Amanpour with a brave, "even striking" new approach to political interviewing: "A TV Host Challenges A Guest. That's News." Stanley had nothing to say about Amanpour's long history of liberal pronouncements, compiled by the Media Research Center's Scott Whitlock.
Stanley described how Amanpour brandished Time magazine's latest issue, with a provocative cover of a young Afghanistan woman who had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban, at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, before comparing her questions to Defense Secretary Robert Gates to that of her rival, NBC's David Gregory.
Over all, however, Ms. Amanpour proved more direct and challenging. Mr. Gregory also brought up the Time cover, but he didn't confront Admiral Mullen with the disturbing image; NBC flashed it on the screen.
And that's a noticeable, and even striking, change.
This is as close as Stanley got to admitting Amanpour's agenda:
She was a surprising choice because she spent most of her career at CNN as a war correspondent and foreign-affairs expert - she is also often criticized for adding an advocate's passion to her reports in places like Bosnia, Iraq and Israel.
Admitting Amanpour "hasn't spent her life covering Washington politics," Stanley insisted "she is smarter than many of those who have." Stanley concluded with more praise:
But for viewers Ms. Amanpour's outsider status comes at an opportune time. The country is sick of its elected officials, and it has never been all that keen on the Washington press corps. If Ms. Amanpour can bring some of the nerve and authority she had covering foreign affairs to a program that has until now had a clubby, old-boy focus on domestic news, she will certainly stand out. She may even be good.