Movers started emptying the office of a key personality at CBS Evening News on Tuesday, tipping off reporters at the New York Post's Page Six column that Scott Pelley would be leaving the evening news program to report full time for the channel's Sunday evening show, 60 Minutes. While he already worked part-time on reports for 60 Minutes, his leaving the 6:30 EST time slot happened unexpectedly. Pelley had been CBS Evening News' main anchor since 2011.
David Rhodes, the president of CBS News, released a statement concerning Pelley's move on Wednesday.
Prior to Rhodes' announcement, the public speculated as to why Pelley was leaving the coveted position. To a certain degree, the CBS newscast has been attempting to improve ratings for quite some time. Since the days of Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, the channel has had trouble with ratings in its evening newscast, finding itself in third place year after year. But after the show's 2009 ratings reportedly reached lows not seen since the 1991-1992 season, Pelley helped boost them.
Pelley's version of CBS Evening News didn't necessarily beat the competitors — Lester Holt at NBC and David Muir of ABC — but ratings did steadily grow from the previous years' numbers. In the 2015-2016 season, for example, CBS announced that Pelley had the best numbers in 10 years and that the network's evening news cast had increased its audience for six consecutive years.
Maybe CBS will let Pelley say goodbye. No comment yet. Network's "low ratings" rationale is odd, since CBS has been #3 at 6:30 for 20+ years— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 31, 2017
That luck seems to have changed in May 2017. The Washington Post reported that the show had lost 9 percent of its audience that month compared with May 2016. This could have been the final straw that led to the shakeup at the network, though it's still pure speculation.
Two thoughts on Scott Pelley ouster: 1. CBS News was not prepared for PR side of this. Lack of official statement so far is stunning. (1/2)— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) May 31, 2017
Whatever the case may be, the way people found out from the movers was a little strange. Evidently, Rhodes had planned all along to announce the move to staff on Wednesday morning, but his office was packed up the day prior. He's currently in the Middle East reporting and will be moving to the 60 Minutes office upon his return.
Hopefully, CBS can find someone appropriate to fill his spot soon. At these times, the more people watching the news, the better.