Poll is good news for Sawyer


NEW YORK -- Diane Sawyer had an 80 percent "favorable" rating. Star Jones Reynolds, meanwhile, had one of the lowest ratings.

Sawyer is America's favorite news or talk personality, according to a Gallup Poll released Tuesday.

Eighty percent of the respondents rated Sawyer "favorable," while only 11 percent labeled her "unfavorable."

Sawyer's tally puts her ahead of her colleague and former Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson, who slides in at No. 2, followed by NBC's Matt Lauer and Dan Rather (who doesn't even have a job in network news anymore). Regis Philbin comes in at No. 5, while CBS' Bob Schieffer and NBC's Brian Williams are Nos. 6 and 7, respectively.

"Nielsen Media Research polls our audience every single night," said NBC News spokeswoman Barbara Levin. "And they tell us `NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams' is the largest single source of news in the country. Period."

It's also worth noting that Williams has the lowest "unfavorable" rating.

The survey was conducted last month, well after the media frenzy surrounding Katie Couric's ascension to the CBS Evening News and Meredith Vieira's defection from The View to Today. And still Sawyer, who appears on Primetime and has quietly held down the fort (with Robin Roberts) at GMA, comes out on top.

"It wasn't a surprise to the people who work with her," said GMA senior executive producer Jim Murphy.

Unfortunately, Sawyer's high marks haven't translated to a ratings victory for GMA, although Primetime is doing well this summer filling the holes in ABC's schedule left by a crop of reality shows.

Couric, whose CBS contract is estimated to be bringing her somewhere around $39 million for three years, comes in at No. 9 on Gallup's list, just behind Barbara Walters at No. 8 and followed by CNN's Anderson Cooper and Vieira at Nos. 10 and 11.

The three news personalities with negative ratings are, in descending order, Geraldo Rivera, Reynolds and Rosie O'Donnell.

However, negative ratings don't necessarily equal bad ratings.

"This is not a perfect measure, given that Americans sometimes like to watch an individual on television whom they profess to dislike," said Gallup's Frank Newport.

The survey was conducted via telephone to 1,001 adults across the country, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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