For a quarter of a century, newsman Ted Koppel lent an air of gravitas to ABC News' Nightline. And now, years after Koppel's retirement, the network has finally found the right person to replace this icon of journalism: a guy who owns a PR firm.
That would be Dan Abrams, the former MSNBC anchor, who now owns Abrams Research, which is a PR firm. The company's Facebook and Twitter pages have been active within the last 24 hours, so it is clearly not out of business. What does Abrams Research do? "Abrams Research is a full service digital and social media agency, specializing in the development of web-based digital marketing and social media campaigns." (It's also worth remembering that the firm's original business model was to actually pay working journalists to give PR advice to companies, which is a good indication of how seriously Dan Abrams takes the notion of journalistic independence.) Who does Abrams Research work for? "Fortune 500 corporations... luxury brands... CEOs, athletes and other high-profile individuals... Financial services firms... Public relations firms and advertising agencies," among others.
Perhaps Nightline will not be reporting on any of those areas, any more?
Dan Abrams is listed on the Abrams Research website as its CEO. Dan Abrams' Twitter bio notes that he is the CEO of Abrams Research. Dan Abrams personal website notes that he is the CEO of Abrams Research. Strangely, in its announcement about Abrams today, ABC News does not mention the fact that Dan Abrams is the CEO of a PR firm. It mentions his TV background. It mentions the fact that he owns Abrams Media, a collection of websites. But (even though we pointed it out in 2011, when ABC hired Abrams as a fill-in anchor on Good Morning America) it does not mention the fact that Dan Abrams, who will now be a news anchor on a once-respected ABC News program, owns a PR firm, bearing his own name, which does PR work on behalf of paying clients.
This is that "new" journalism.
UPDATE: Dan Abrams sent us the following statement:
Yes all of Abrams Media and Abrams Research are now under the complete control of Bridget Williams, the new president of all of the businesses. That was essential to her in accepting the job, and part of me becoming a full time employee with ABC News (she even gets my office). In fact, I stopped attending AR meetings weeks ago in anticipation of this new role — Bridget has been handling all of that.
Before my deal was announced yesterday, Bridget put in a ticket to have my name removed from the website as the CEO. I imagine that will be done by the end of the week.
And. . . as you and I have discussed before Abrams Research is not a PR firm, still does no outreach and still makes no effort to get publicity for clients. It now serves as an arm of the sales team for Abrams Media to advise and assist Abrams Media sales clients in how to best use social media and maximize the reach of sponsored or related content.
In terms of deriving income from any of the businesses . . I have placed all of them in a trust so that there is no potential for even the appearance of a conflict.
ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider tells us, "It was essential to us that Dan not be involved in the companies he founded, and he is not involved."
Dan Abrams remains the owner of a PR firm.