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Barbara Walters joined the program in 1979 in a role something less than a co-anchor and soon became a regular special contributor in the fall of 1981.In 1984, she became Hugh Downs's equal, thus reuniting a duo which had already anchored together on NBC's Today from 1964 to 1971.

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On March 3, 1999, Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern who was infamously revealed to have been involved in an affair with then-President Bill Clinton a few years earlier, was interviewed by Barbara Walters on the program; that particular edition of 20/20 was watched by an estimated 70 million viewers, which ABC stated was a record audience for a news program.On January 29, 2013, it was announced that Chris Cuomo would leave ABC News and 20/20 for CNN to co-host the cable network's new morning news program, New Day; on the same day, ABC announced David Muir would join Elizabeth Vargas as the new co-anchor of the program, in addition to continuing as weekend anchor of ABC World News (a role he retains after being appointed to main anchor of the since-renamed ABC World News Tonight in September 2014).The program expanded once again on March 2, 2013, with the debut of 20/20 Saturday, which mainly features rebroadcasts of archived stories from previous editions of 20/20 (mainly those dating back as early as 2008) in the same single topic format as the flagship Friday broadcasts.At its peak, 20/20 ran on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays, in addition to its longtime Friday timeslot; these additional nights of 20/20 were joined by the younger-skewing 20/20 Downtown on Thursday nights.In 2000, ABC reinstated Primetime under the title Primetime Thursday, and spun off 20/20 Downtown as a separate newsmagazine simply titled Downtown.The hour-long program has been a staple on Friday evenings (currently airing at p.m.

Eastern Time, though sometimes extended one hour earlier, particularly during the summer months) for much of the time since it moved to that timeslot from Thursdays in September 1987, though special editions of the program occasionally air on other nights.

20/20 Saturday airs outside of college football season, at either p.m.

as a two-hour broadcast formatted as separate hour-long episodes centered on two different topics or at p.m.

ABC News correspondent Elizabeth Vargas was promoted to the co-anchor position.

In September 2009, before the start of its 31st season, John Stossel announced he would leave the program after 28 years to pursue a new weekly show on the Fox Business Network.

The program was originally launched as a summer replacement series; it was then presented on a once-a-month basis during the 1978–79 television season, before being given a regular weekly timeslot on Thursdays at p.m. Ratings were generally very good during the summer months during its eight years on Thursday nights despite competition from Knots Landing on CBS and Hill Street Blues on NBC.