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'Morning' anchors to fill in for Woodruff

Associated Press
Published February 2, 2006

NEW YORK - Two of ABC News' best-known journalists, Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, will fill in for anchorman Bob Woodruff on World News Tonight as he recovers from injuries suffered in a roadside bombing, the network said Wednesday.

ABC News president David Westin said Gibson and Sawyer had agreed to help out on the evening newscast for the next few weeks, as it becomes clearer how long Woodruff will be out.

Woodruff, 44, was slowly being brought out of sedation Wednesday at a Navy hospital in Maryland, where he was flown for treatment the night before. Military doctors and Woodruff's brother David said his condition was improving by the day.

Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were hit by shrapnel Sunday when an explosive device went off near the Iraqi military vehicle in which they were riding.

Gibson and Sawyer will take turns as partners to Elizabeth Vargas, who became co-anchor with Woodruff last month. There was no word on how that would affect Gibson and Sawyer's roles as anchors on Good Morning America.

Curiosity about Woodruff fueled World News Tonight to a ratings victory over NBC's Nightly News by about a million viewers Monday, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research figures. Typically, the first-place NBC broadcast beats ABC by about a million viewers a night.

NBC went back into the lead Tuesday night, by about 400,000 viewers, Nielsen said.

After he arrived at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda late Tuesday, Woodruff moved his legs and arms and tried to open his eyes, David Woodruff said.

Lt. Col. Guillermo Tellez, chief of surgery at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany where the men were treated, said that though Woodruff faces a long rehabilitation, doctors were hopeful he could return to his job.

The network said the military recommended taking Woodruff and Vogt to the Navy hospital because of its specialized treatment in head wounds and that ABC is paying for their care.

[Last modified February 2, 2006, 02:15:36]

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