NEW YORK (AP) — Diane Sawyer's election night performance left some viewers asking if she had begun celebrating the election a bit early.
Co-anchoring ABC News' coverage on Tuesday, the veteran journalist struck a different manner from her practiced, straight-news-delivering style.
Sawyer spoke more slowly than usual while seeming to prop herself on outstretched arms at the anchor desk she shared with George Stephanopoulos.
"OK, I wanna — can we have our music, because this is another big one here? Minnesota, we're ready to project Minnesota, rrright now. ... Well, tonight we know that President Barack has won Minnesota," she said around 10 p.m. EST, stumbling over President Barack Obama's name.
Maybe Sawyer was just weary from the recent torrent of news.
In any case, Twitter users took quick notice and began cracking jokes.
Sawyer's name was soon trending with unflattering posts, while a new Twitter handle, Drunk Diane Sawyer, collected hundreds of followers.
"A bit tipsy," ''hammered" or "on pain killers, muscle relaxers, benzos or some combination" were among the jeering explanations. Another likened it to an episode of HBO's drama "The Newsroom," in which Will McAvoy, the fictitious anchorman, had eaten a couple of pot brownies before unexpectedly being summoned to his anchor desk to report a news story.
Some tweeters joked that a more fun-loving Sawyer was a ploy by ABC to boost viewership as Obama faced off against Mitt Romney in the election. Several Twitter followers said they were drawn to the network by word that Sawyer was behaving, by one description, "a bit wacky."
"Bad night for Romney," one tweeter summed up. "Worse night for Diane Sawyer?"
ABC had no comment Wednesday, while Sawyer seemed to acknowledge the Twitter reaction in her own tweeted message: "Read your tweets the good, bad, and the funny. See you on ABCWorldNews."
She did not address it on Wednesday's "World News" broadcast.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.