Analysis: US Television News

Michael Park looks at the major American news presenters chosen to fill the shoes of high-profile retirees
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Stephen Colbert

The Colbert Report, Comedy Central

"The next Jon Stewart" is what many people are calling Stephen Colbert, who last year left Stewart's The Daily Show to present his own satirical news programme. While there are similarities between the two shows, Colbert anchors his show pretending to be an egotistical and omniscient anchor ("On this show your voice will be heard ... in the form of my voice") who makes up words ("truthiness") and for comedic effect positions himself as more important than his guests.

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper 360, CNN

Ever since Hurricane Katrina, media commentators have been falling over themselves to praise the suave, grey-haired Cooper, 38, whose genuine on-camera anger at the conditions he was witnessing in New Orleans helped to shame the Bush administration. Let loose from his studio to report from the site of any major news event, Cooper leaves his dark suits behind and dons jeans, sweatshirts and hooded tops to present one of CNN's most watched programmes.

CNN is available on Sky

Al Franken

The Al Franken Show, Air America

When liberal talk radio station Air America launched in the US prior to the 2004 presidential election, few gave it much chance of success. It was plagued by problems, but its future is now secure and many people credit comedian and writer Al Franken with being its saviour. Franken is one of the sharpest and wittiest liberal commentators working in any medium and is reportedly considering a run for Congress. In the meantime he continues to be one of Bush's biggest critics.

Nancy Grace

CNN Headline News, Court TV

After the murder of her fiancé, Nancy Grace trained as a lawyer and worked as a special prosecutor in her native Georgia for more than a decade before switching to presenting. Grace, 48, is now the new legal star of American television. She presents programmes on two cable channels, CNN Headline News and Court TV, and controversially airs her unshakeable opinion of a defendant's guilt or innocence before a trial has started.

CNN is available on Sky

Cynthia McFadden

Nightline, ABC

When legendary anchor Ted Koppel decided to retire from Nightline, ABC decided to replace him with three presenters rather than just one: American journalist Terry Moran, Martin Bashir, and the rock-solid Cynthia McFadden, a qualified lawyer. The high-profile nature of the programme and her ability to do justice to both celebrity interviews and hard-hitting news items are what have brought her considerable praise in her new role.

Bill O'Reilly

Fox News

The O'Reilly Factor is the most-watched programme on any cable news network, making its host one of the most influential men in US television. A champion of the American right, O'Reilly takes aim nightly at supposed liberal bias in the media and overt political correctness. He knows exactly how to engage his audience and rile his critics and it is a recipe that continues to draw countless viewers from the American heartland and appal coastal-state intellectuals.

Fox News is available on Sky

Greta Van Susteren

Fox News

Another former attorney turned presenter, Van Susteren jumped ship from CNN to Fox News in 2002. On the back of what some media critics call the "missing white woman syndrome" (where more coverage is given to stories involving missing white women than to missing white men or missing ethnic minorities), she has positioned herself as one of the most focused and driven presenters. Her coverage gives her a high profile and consistently high ratings.

Fox News is available on Sky

Abbi Tatton

The Situation Room, CNN

Tatton, 30, a Leeds University graduate, is the stand-out English reporter on The Situation Room on CNN. For most of 2005 she kept the audience up to date with what was happening in the "blogosphere" with charm rather than wit, but her presence, her untainted English accent and her undiluted enthusiasm have won her many fans among bloggers and viewers alike. With such a following it can't be long before CNN gives her something more substantial to do.

CNN is available on Sky

Elizabeth Vargas

World News Tonight, ABC

Following the death of news presenter Peter Jennings, ABC decided to adopt a two-presenter approach to its flagship World News Tonight and chose Elizabeth Vargas to partner Bob Woodruff. Vargas stood in for Jennings on numerous occasions before his death and has considerable overseas experience, making her a safe but somewhat uninspiring choice for a network news presenter. She is only the third woman chosen to co-anchor a network evening news programme.

World News Tonight can be seen on BBC News 24

Brian Williams

NBC Nightly News, NBC

Williams, 47, took over presenting duties on America's highest rated evening network news programme last year. His star rose during Hurricane Katrina and he was called "the nation's anchor", after a moving report from inside the squalid Superdome. GQ has hailed him as "the most interesting man in television today".

Can be seen on CNBC, available on Sky

Bob Woodruff

World News Tonight, ABC

Woodruff hit the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. ABC News last year announced he was to be the co-anchor of their evening news show with Elizabeth Vargas. But he's been spending most of his time on location; consequently, he was seriously wounded by a bomb while travelling with a US army convoy in Iraq last month.

World News Tonight can be seen on BBC News 24

Katie Couric

Today morning show, NBC

One of the first ladies of American TV, Couric is reportedly being courted by CBS to present its flagship evening news programme. Couric, who has hosted NBC's morning show Today since 1991, earns £6m a year. Perhaps only Oprah Winfrey is as loved and respected by middle America as Couric, who famously underwent a colonoscopy on air in 2000 to raise awareness of colon cancer after her husband died from the disease in 1998.

Couric's interviews are often screened on NBC's Nightly News on CNBC, available on Sky