Scott Pelley is out as the anchor of the CBS Evening News.
A source has confirmed the move, first reported by the New York Post, that Pelley will be giving up the anchor chair, which he’s filled since 2011, and return as a full-time correspondent on 60 Minutes.
CBS is expected to announce the move to the staff sometime this morning.
Despite reaching somewhere between 7 and 8 million viewers, the 59-year-old newsman has consistently finished in third place in the ratings behind his two main competitors, NBC’s Lester Holt and ABC’s David Muir, which reportedly led to his contract not being renewed. According to the Washington Post, his program lost 9 percent of its overall viewers since last year, and a staggering 14 percent of viewers in the key advertising demographic of ages 25-54.
Employees saw movers cleaning out Pelley’s desk on Tuesday, but that was reportedly at the request of the veteran broadcaster himself, who is currently on assignment in the Middle East for 60 Minutes.
Pelley isn’t being forced out instantly — he’ll continue to anchor the show before increasing his role on 60 Minutes, affording him the opportunity to say goodbye to his nightly audience. CBS News Senior National Corespondent Anthony Mason has been filling in for Pelley, and is expected to do so until CBS names a permanent replacement.
As Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan pointed out, Pelley has stood out from his competitors by sternly taking on the president and his administration. He labeled White House counselor Kellyanne Conway as “a fearless fabulist” and has constantly called Trump’s messages on social media “Twitter tantrums.”
Even the Associated Press did a round-up of some of Pelley’s best Trump zingers:
• “The president’s real troubles today were not with the media, but with the facts,” he said on Feb. 24, reporting on a skirmish with the media.
• “Today we learned the length of the president’s fuse — 28 days,” he said, before a story about Trump’s first news conference as president.
• “Some of the problems Mr. Trump promised to solve last night don’t actually exist,” he said on the broadcast after the president’s address to Congress.
Then there were moments like this, from his Feb. 7 show:
“It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality. Mr. Trump said this morning that any polls that show disapproval of his immigration ban are fake. He singled out a federal judge for ridicule after the judge suspended his ban, and Mr. Trump said that the ruling now means that anyone can enter the country. The president’s fictitious claims, whether imaginary or fabricated, are now worrying even his backers, particularly after he insisted that millions of people voted illegally, giving Hillary Clinton her popular-vote victory.”
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