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Martin Bashir Leaves ABC News for MSNBC

Martin Bashir is leaving ABC News to anchor a daytime program on MSNBC and contribute to the NBC News program Dateline.

Bashir broke the news to his colleagues at the late-night news show Thursday (July 22) morning.

The British anchor came to ABC News in 2004 as a package deal of sorts with James Goldston, current executive producer of Nightline, where Bashir has shared anchoring duties with Cynthia McFadden and Terry Moran.

Goldston and Bashir worked together in their native U.K. producing the controversial Living with Michael Jackson documentary that spurred an investigation that eventually led to child molestation charges being brought against the pop star. They were recruited to ABC News in the run-up to president David Westin's effort to remake Nightline. Since then the program has gone on to ratings success and is often held up as the model for digital news gathering at ABC News.

Good Morning AmericaWeekend anchor Bill Weir will replace Bashir at Nightline.

Bashir is the second ABC News personality to defect to NBC News this year. Kate Snow, left Good Morning AmericaWeekend in March. She is also a contributor at Dateline and fills in for Brian Williams on Nightly News.

"Martin has been an important part of the successful Nightline effort," Westin said in an e-mail to staffers. "All of us owe him a debt of gratitude for his many contributions to ABC News during his six years here, and I know that all of us wish him well."

Bashir starts at MSNBC and NBC News after Labor Day. He'll anchor an afternoon news hour; executives are eyeing the 3 p.m. slot. The program will be topical, according to Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC, but it will also allow Bashir to showcase his personality. 

"The show is going to be built around Martin," says Griffin. "He's smart. He's direct. He can write. He can interview," says Griffin. "It really fills out this network. We've got a great primetime. I feel very good about where MSNBC is right now. And Martin gives us another great personality."