ABC News has picked a new executive to run Good Morning America. Simone Swink, a longtime senior staffer on the show, was promoted to senior producer, ABC News president Kim Godwin write in a memo to employees Sunday, reports Variety. The job had been empty for months after the show’s previous chief, Michael Corn, suddenly left in April. Last week, Corn was accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed by another GMA staffer.
The network considered replacing Corn with an outsider, sources told Variety. Ultimately, executives looked within the show and picked Swink. “Simone is a dynamic, thoughtful and creative leader, experienced in collaborating across platforms,” Godwin wrote Sunday. “I’m confident that she and the GMA team will continue to lead the show in new and innovative directions.”
Swank will have to guide GMA, which features Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos as lead anchors, through a changing television environment. Although GMA is the overall most-watched of the three main morning shows, it still trails NBC’s Today Show in the 25-54 demographic, a group coveted among advertisers who support the shows. Today has sought to expand its audience by going into streaming and podcasting. CBS This Morning, which usually comes in third behind GMA and Today, is also hoping to get a boost by moving to a Times Square studio and bringing in former NFL player Nate Burleson. GMA has had its own success with a former NFL player, as Michael Strahan remains a popular anchor.
Swank has worked at ABC News for years, but she also has talk show experience thanks to her work with Jane Pauley and Martha Stewart. She has also produced documentaries at the National Geographic Channel. She joined GMA in 2010 as a writer and has continued to tack on more responsibilities. She helped manage the show with senior producer Christine Brouwer and supervised the second hour.
Corn left GMA suddenly in April, with no reason given. Last week, Kirstyn Crawford, a producer who works with Stephanopoulos, accused Corn of assaulting her and another staffer, on different occassions over the course of several years. Crawford, who filed the lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, accused other ABC News executives of not reprimanding Corn, reports Variety. Corn denied all allegations in a statement released by his attorney. ABC News also disputed the allegations made against it in the lawsuit.