Inside the fallout at ABC News over George Stephanopoulos’ comments on Biden

Strolling down a New York City street sporting a T-shirt and shorts, George Stephanopoulos uttered nine words which he appeared to quickly regret.

“Do you think Biden should step down? You’ve talked to him more than anyone else has lately... you can be honest,” a pedestrian asked the off-duty ABC News anchor.

“I don’t think he can serve four more years,” Stephanopoulos responded as the passerby filmed the interaction.

The video, first obtained by TMZ, quickly gained traction online, prompting both Stephanopoulos and ABC News to release statements on his comments.

“Earlier today I responded to a passerby. I shouldn’t have,” the host said.

The network meanwhile distanced itself from his comments, saying: “George expressed his own point of view and not the position of ABC News.”

Now, new details have emerged about the crisis that went on behind the scenes at the network.

Debra OConnell, the network’s news division head, was said to be so “furious” with the top anchor for expressing his opinion in public that she threatened to take him off the air over the matter.

According to Radar Online, O’Connell said that Stephanopoulos “is a newsman who is expected to be objective.”

Insiders told the outlet that an internal meeting was abruptly called in which the news anchor was asked to apoloigze for his comments.

Stephanopoulos and Biden sat down last Friday for president’s first interview post election debate debacle (Getty Images)
Stephanopoulos and Biden sat down last Friday for president’s first interview post election debate debacle (Getty Images)

An ABC News spokesperson denied the claims to Radar Online.

Stephanopoulos had been handpicked to hold the first major interview with Biden since his disastrous debate performance against Donald Trump, which thrust the president’s mental acuity into the spotlight.

The embattled president sat down with the news anchor in Madison, Wisconsin, for the pre-recorded interview last Friday, which was aired as a prime-time special that night.

In the interview, Biden vowed that only the “Lord almighty” could persuade him to step aside from the 2024 race, brushed off his dismal debate performance as a “bad night” and claimed that – if he loses to Trump come November – he’d be satisfied as “long as I gave it my all”.

The hotly-anticipated interview marked a desperate effort to turn the tide on an increasingly despondent Democrat camp,.

But for many, it did little to quell the crisis around his campaign. To date, 15 lawmakers, several megadonors, an agitated electorate and political commentators have called for him to exit the race.