Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
At a CBS News TCA session this morning that introduced Scott Pelley, who replaced Katie Couric as anchor and managing editor on The CBS Evening News six weeks ago, CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager left no doubt that Couric’s predecessor Dan Rather wouldn’t have a role at CBS News anytime soon. Or ever. Fager responded to a question about how tragically things had ended for Rather at the network by acknowledging, “Things ended so badly that it’s difficult to see how it could be reconciled.” Pelley, a longtime correspondent at the network who worked with Rather, added, “He was a great mentor of mine and has an enduring place in the history of CBS News.”
The affable Pelley’s month and a half in his new job has done little to move the evening news ratings meter, with his early numbers consistent with, but not much different from, those of Couric or even fill-in Bob Schieffer. Yet Pelley trumpeted that the newscast’s audience “has been growing dramatically the past several weeks we’ve been on.” Several questions also focused on the purported vanishing resources at CBS News, including the closing of several foreign bureaus that has caused much lamenting from, among others, Ted Koppel. “I think the fact we don’t have adequate resources is a misnomer,” CBS News President David Rhodes stressed. “I don’t see that we don’t have what we need to do a really capable job every night.” He later added in response to a question about the closing of CBS News bureaus, “You don’t need physical offices (in foreign outposts) to put on a credible broadcast each night with the new technologies available to us today.” Added Pelley: “I’ve experienced no shortage of resources at all.” And on the practice of paying money to sources such as Casey Anthony for access, video or information, all on the panel were clear that it isn’t anything CBS News ever would do.
“We think it’s a terrible practice,” Fager said. “We won’t do it.” Echoed Pelley: “That’s not who we are.”