Dan Abrams Steps Down as ABC News' 'Nightline' Co-anchor

Dan Abrams
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Rachel Maddow's show replaced "Verdict with Dan Abrams," giving the network its best performance ever in the 9 p.m. hour.

Abrams will stay on as the network's chief legal analyst

Dan Abrams is stepping back from his role as Nightline co-anchor while chief national correspondent Byron Pitts has been set as his replacement, ABC News president James Goldston announced in a memo on Thursday.

"Earlier this year Dan came to talk to me about taking on a new role at ABC News and returning to his true passion — running the websites and company he founded, Abrams Media," Goldston wrote, referring to the stable of websites Abrams founded in 2009.

Abrams was announced as Nightline co-anchor in a shake-up at the news show in June of last year, when he replaced Terry Moran, who was named chief foreign correspondent. Incoming Nightline co-anchor Pitts joined ABC News in 2013 from CBS News. 

Abrams Media includes websites such as Mediaite, The Mary Sue and Sports Grid.

"Abrams Media ?i?s?? my ?passion,? ?and with its? recent? growth and success?es?, in particular Mediaite.com and TheMarySue.com, I ?have also realized how much I miss the day-to-day of running my digital media business," Abrams wrote in a statement posted on Mediaite.

"I am ?excited? to lead its expansion, promotion and ?to create ??original video and other ?new ventures, none of which is possible as a full-time ABC News employee," he wrote.

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Dec. 18, 9:15 a.m. Updated to clarify that Abrams invests in Gossip Cop but the website is not a part of Abrams Media.