Television

ABC Has Committed a Grave Injustice on Us All With Its Response to the Good Morning America Affair

Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes, in formalwear.
Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes won’t be wishing you good morning for a little while. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images.

You’d be forgiven if, before last week, the names T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach meant nothing to you. But for a swath of people on the internet who tend to get overinvested in such things, that all changed when a Daily Mail investigation revealed that the two, first of all, are co-hosts of a Good Morning America offshoot called GMA3—OK, sure—and, second and more importantly for the Daily Mail’s purposes, are enmeshed in a scandalous off-screen romance, having been caught by the tabloid in a series of flirty photos. (The smoking gun, as it were, is one of Holmes giving Robach a healthy pat on the backside during a trip upstate. Yes, the Daily Mail stalked these two all over creation to get those pictures—and it was arguably worth it?)

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

After the Daily Mail dossier dropped, the two co-anchored the show mostly as usual for the rest of last week. But on Monday, ABC News announced that it was temporarily pulling Holmes and Robach from the show, saying that their romance had become a “distraction.” It immediately struck some as a strange decision. Just when people had gotten interested in a little-discussed daytime TV show! Some good old gossip rubbernecking can’t hurt in the ratings department, surely. So why do it?

The show is part of the ABC News division, which has its “journalistic integrity” to protect, I suppose, but it’s also part of Good Morning America, which is not exactly the height of sobriety in subject matter, and it’s a bonus Good Morning America program at that. Can you really imagine a situation in which knowing that the hosts are involved romantically will make it hard to take it seriously when the show airs segments on cookie recipes and eco-friendly gift giving, to name two actual recent segments? I personally would be much more inclined to watch cookie recipes as presented to me by two people whose secret affair recently, very publicly, came to light. “We can’t operate with gossip, and speculation and rumors,” network president Kim Godwin reportedly said in an announcement to staff about the decision to bench Holmes and Robach. “We need to stay focused on the work.” Respectfully, Ms. Godwin, have you ever met a daytime television viewer? All they (we) care about is gossip, speculation, and rumors. What work could be more important?

Advertisement
Advertisement

Yeah, ABC may be a little worried about the appearance of impropriety, given the way workplace romances have become increasingly frowned upon in the wake of #MeToo, not to mention the Daily Mail report’s shocked-and-appalled emphasis on Holmes’ and Robach’s both being married to other people, with the attendant old Instagram posts to rub it in further. (Both are allegedly now separated.) The New York Times reported that ABC News brass said the relationship was not in violation of company policy, though other outlets have reported that there may be more to the story that has yet to surface publicly, including other affairs and bad workplace behavior, that could change the equation. Higher-ups also reportedly found out about the relationship at the same time as the rest of the world, which they can’t have been too pleased about. Ultimately, broadcast networks are conservative institutions, so it makes sense they would want to let the chatter die down a bit, even if they are going to miss out on a host of opportunities for viral moments in so doing. When Holmes and Robach bantered on one of last week’s shows about what a long week it had been, for example, the internet ate it up with a spoon. C’mon, ABC: Think of all the eyeballs.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

(In reading about all of this, by the way, I uncovered another scandal, though admittedly a less juicy one: GMA3, a program with morning in its title, actually airs in the afternoon. Now, where is the integrity in that, I ask you?)

The upshot of this all seems to be that Holmes and Robach have some unexpected time off. Now that the word is out and the Daily Mail is off their tail, perhaps they should take this opportunity to head back upstate, where they can finally pat each other’s butts to their hearts’ content, away from the prying eyes of photographers.

Advertisement