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A Forced Farewell? Insiders Claim Departure Of Female ABC Anchors Is No Coincidence

With Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Cynthia McFadden all recently departing from ABC, the network’s slate of female journalists is looking pretty slim — and insiders speculate that the spate of retirements is no coincidence.

“It can’t be coincidental that Diane’s retirement came so soon after Barbara’s,” an insider tells Radar.

Indeed, the timing of Diane Sawyer’s retirement announcement on Wednesday surprised many, sources tell Radar, as World News had just beaten NBC’s Nightly News for the first time in years during the recent May sweeps.

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But a press release issued by the network seemed to hint at behind-the-scenes issues, when it noted that she’d share the victory with David Muir, because he’d “substituted for Ms. Sawyer … the same three nights …that ABC beat NBC …”

Now, there’s buzz at the network that Diane was forced out,” the insider continued. “In addition, the recent high profile departures of veteran journalist, Cynthia McFadden to NBC, and Katie Couric to Yahoo, leave the network slim in the high profile female anchors department.”

In fact, Sawyer’s decision means that men will anchor all three major network news shows for the first time since 2006.

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ABC announced on Wednesday that Sawyer would be stepping down as anchor of World News, and would be replaced by her close pal, Muir. However, that was old news to RadarOnline.com readers!

Radar broke the story last year that Sawyer was already grooming Muir to be her replacement — and that co-worker George Stephanopoulos was peeved over the pick.

Nevertheless, when Radar began hearing rumors two months ago that Sawyer was on her way out, sources close to her insisted “there was no immediate plan for her to leave.”

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However, in ABC’s press release yesterday, the network admitted that talks with Sawyer to step down as anchor of World News began “several months ago.”

Both Sawyer and Walters still remain at the network, working on special projects. Walters remains as executive producer of The View.

Just weeks after formally retiring from The View, Walters landed the exclusive interview with Santa Barbara mass shooter’s dad, Peter Rodger.

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ABC had dispatched Stephanopoulos​ to Los Angeles to attempt to score the interview with Rodger, but Walters, told close friend gossip columnist New York Post‘s Cindy Adams, that Peter had chosen her over her colleague.

A rep for ABC News told Radar, “Both women remain employed at ABC and there is no truth to rumors they were forced out.”