Scott Pelley was pushed out as the regular host of the program.
Anthony Mason will serve as interim anchor of the CBS Evening News after Scott Pelley was pushed out of the chair. The broadcast is still titled the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and sources at the network say Pelley will return to say farewell to viewers, said multiple CBS News sources. The network has yet to officially announce Pelley’s departure but a statement is expected soon.
Mason has served as among the main fill-in anchors for Pelley. Some inside CBS News say he could eventually land the job officially. But one source compared his role to that of Bob Schieffer after Dan Rather left and before Katie Couric debuted on the program in September 2006. The difference this time is CBS News executives are unlikely to try to make a big (and expensive) splash by recruiting a high-priced anchor from a competing news division the way they did with Couric.
Mason, 60, is the co-host of the Saturday edition of CBS This Morning and the network’s senior national correspondent. He has been at CBS News for more than 30 years, joining the network in 1986 in the London bureau. He also frequently contributes to CBS Sunday Morning.
The news of Pelley’s ouster had long been rumored as the broadcast has remained stubbornly in third place – where it’s been for decades. And CBS News stalwart 60 Minutes is operating with a thin regular correspondent corps; the untimely death of Bob Simon in early 2015 in a car accident in Manhattan left a big hole. Bill Whitaker, who was named a 60 Minutes correspondent in March 2014, has been a prominent addition to the broadcast. And Pelley continued to do as many as 20 pieces each season for 60 Minutes, a schedule that left him stretched rather thin.
But it has also been a challenging time in general for the nightly newscasts. All three broadcasts were down in the first quarter of 2017. The NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt was down 4 percent in viewers and 6 percent in the 25-54 demographic upon which television news is sold. ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir was down 2 percent in viewers and 7 percent in the demo. Pelley’s Evening News, which remains in third in both measures, had the largest declines; 6 percent in viewers and 13 percent.
Still news of Pelley’s exit – which broke on Tuesday night on PageSix – could fairly be described as less than smooth. The PageSix account noted that Pelley’s Evening News office was cleaned dismantled while he was “away on a story.” But CBS News sourced stressed that Pelley – who is in Turkey – had asked that his office be cleaned out while he was away. (The 60 Minutes offices are in a building across the street from the CBS News headquarters on West 57th Street.)
A source close to Pelley described him as “thrilled” to return to 60 Minutes full time, but “not happy about how it’s been handled.”