Hours after word broke of Scott Pelley’s exit from CBS Evening News – when he arranged for his office to be cleaned out while he was on assignment for 60 Minutes – CBS News officially announced his full-time move to the newsmag. Pelley has anchored the evening newscast since taking over for Katie Couric in 2011.
The news division also officially confirmed the widely reported news that Anthony Mason, CBS News Senior National Correspondent and frequent evening-news fill-in anchor, will be taking over for Pelley as anchor of the newscast, for now.
Pelley will devote his full attention to the venerable Sunday show, which is revving up to celebrate its 50th anniversary and, starting next month, will have NBC competition in the form of a Megyn Kelly-hosted newsmag when that network’s football schedule permits. Pelley joined 60 Minutes as a correspondent in 2004.
But, CBS News added, Pelley also will “report on major stories and breaking news events across the CBS News division.”
Pelley is being moved because the milestone season of 60 Minutes “requires Scott’s full contribution,” CBS News chief David Rhodes said in the announcement. “Scott brought the best values of 60 Minutes to CBS Evening News, and we thank him for his commitment to the journalism of this broadcast every night these past six years.”
Pelley, meanwhile, said in a statement about his evening news colleagues, “I find my heart filled with gratitude for the opportunity to know you, humility in light of your sacrifices, and hopes for the future of journalism, because of the standards you live by.”
He added he is “glad to accept this assignment,” noting, “CBS has been great to me for nearly 30 years.”
CBS Evening News continues to run third among network evening newscasts in both total viewers and the news demo, behind NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir – a ratings trend that started long before Pelley took over the anchor spot. Last week, for instance, CBS’ newscast clocked 6.24 million total viewers and 1.3M in the news demographic, trailing ABC (7.53M, 1.58M) and NBC (7.79M, 1.78M)
Pelley was a conspicuous no-show at CBS’ upfront presentation to media buyers at Carnegie Hall earlier this month. The Eye network traditionally plugs its news programs during the presentation but this year made no mention of Pelley or his evening newscast, instead focusing on CBS This Morning, with hosts Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell chatting onstage.