In 2011, ABC News launched a major rebranding effort focused on the slogan “See the Whole Picture,” featuring key news personalities including George Stephanopoulos:

Today ABC News launched a major re-branding initiative. The last time that ABC News spoke directly with its audience about what defines ABC News was over a decade ago with “More Americans Get Their News from ABC News than Any Other Source” – a statement that is still true today.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood laid out the foundation of the new campaign to ABC News staff in an email on Monday morning:

Starting today and over the course of 2012, you’re going to see new on-air promos that feature images of an unprecedented gathering of ABC News anchors and correspondents and a call to action: When viewers turn to ABC News, they will “See the Whole Picture.”

Believe it or not, it’s been more than a decade since ABC News consistently put forward a message or slogan.

This new promise – “See the Whole Picture” – will help unify ABC News and differentiate our efforts from the competition.

Of course, this concept is already embedded deeply in the culture and DNA of ABC News. It’s what we do every day.

Indeed, our team has a singular ability to tell stories in a way that is informative, engaging and emotional, enabling viewers to gain a big picture understanding and make better decisions in their lives.


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How did that work out?

Until recently, I think pretty well. Just a gut impression that ABC News really raised its credibility, though I credit that to reporters like Jon Karl, not anchors like Stephanopoulos.

It’s one of the reasons the Stephanopoulos-Clinton Foundation scandal is so damaging to ABC News, which reportedly has a $105 million long-term contract with Stephanopoulos.

The non-disclosure of Stephanopoulos’ donations goes to the heart of the trustworthiness of ABC News itself. That ABC News seemed to spin and manage the disclosure through Politico after being contacted by The Washington Free Beacon only added to the perception problem.

The ABC News brand is bigger than Stephanopoulos. ABC News needs to remember that.

I discussed the issue on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV yesterday:

George Stephanopoulos’ donations to the Clinton Foundation prove the ABC News chief anchor is really a “partisan Clinton affiliate pretending to be a reporter,” said William Jacobson, a professor of law at Cornell Law School.

And Jacobson told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV that at a “bare minimum,” the network must prohibit him from covering the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I know that’s a big blow for somebody in his position, but he concealed not just a bias, but a conflict of interest,” Jacobson said….

“He subjected an author to really what amounted to just abuse in the context by not disclosing their questioners’ own conflicts of interest,” he said.

“It was not a proper interview, it was not a proper disclosure, it appears to have at least potentially violated ABC’s own rules.

“And it really confirms our worst fears about George Stephanopoulos, which is that he is a partisan Clinton affiliate pretending to be a reporter. That sounds harsh, but that’s what it looks like and I don’t see how he can possibly do campaign coverage for them.”

ABC is standing behind Stephanopoulos, but Jacobson told Steve Malzberg the network has “a brand to protect.”

Still, he added, putting Stephanopoulos “front and center” in coverage of the campaign, in which Hillary Clinton is seeking the Democratic nomination, is “not going to do that brand any good.”

“He cannot be [in] their news coverage. If he wants to give commentary, if he wants to be somebody who just expresses an opinion, that’s a different story. But he should not be their news person on the campaign,” Jacobson said.

It’s not as if the warning signs as to Stephanopoulos were not there. His performance in going after Mitt Romney on contraception during the 2012 debates was a huge red flag as it coincided with the launch of the Obama campaign War on Women theme:

The 2012 performance perhaps could be dismissed as general media Obamamania, as was seen at other networks such as Candy Crowley’s intervention to help Obama during one of the debates.

But this is different. Stephanopoulos had a close connection to the likely Democratic nominee, and that allegiance appears to persist in a way that is very damaging to the ABC News brand.

In standing by Stephanopoulos and not imposing any consequence, ABC News is failing to see the whole picture.