During an appearance on CNN Sunday, former “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley, who is now a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes,” dropped some bombs on his own network, particularly the former president of the news division, whom Pelley largely blamed for his ouster.
In an interview promoting his new book, “Truth Worth Telling: A Reporter’s Search for Meaning in the Stories of Our Times,” Pelley accused management of removing him from “CBS Evening News” because he complained to management about the “hostile work environment” toward both men and women.
“I lost my job at the ‘Evening News’ because I wouldn’t stop complaining to management about the hostile work environment,” Pelley told “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter, as reported by The New York Daily News.
About two or three years before he was axed by the show, Pelley said, he told then-news division president David Rhodes that something must be done about how people were treated at the network. “Several years ago — four or five years ago — I went to the president of the news division and explained to him that this hostile work environment couldn’t go on for women and men,” said Pelley. “He told me that if I kept agitating about that internally, then I’d lose my job.”
After being told by the next man up the ladder at the news division (who The Daily Beast notes is presumably former CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager) that his complaints weren’t valid, Pelley said he approached then-CBS CEO and Chairman Les Moonves. Moonves, who resigned last year amid a series of #MeToo sexual harassment allegations, “listened to me very concerned for an hour, asked me some penetrating questions about what was going on,” said Pelley. “I didn’t hear back from him but in the next opportunity in my contact, I was let go from the ‘Evening News.'”
CBS announced on May 31, 2017 that Anthony Mason would replace Pelley, and the host officially signed off two weeks later, NY Daily News notes. Pelley was then moved over to the position of full-time correspondent with “60 Minutes,” a situation he described as “all blue sky.”
“As you say now, everything has changed,” Pelley told Stelter. “We have a new chairman of CBS Corporation, Joe Ianniello, a visionary leader. We have the first woman president of the news division, Susan Zirinsky, and I’ve known her for 30 years. … And now we have a new executive producer, Bill Owens, at 60 Minutes. It’s all blue sky from here. I’m very excited. I know these people and I know that we’re on the right track.”
Citing a “longtime CBS News insider,” The Daily Beast reports that Pelley’s “hostile work environment” complaint is likely a reference to his “ongoing ‘war’ with Rhodes, who was known within the news division for a tough, at times intimidating, management style that demonstrated little patience for the concerns of underlings.”
In a press statement, CBS News said it “disagree[s]” with their employee’s characterization of what led to his replacement. “Scott was expressing his own opinion. We disagree. CBS News has been working hard to advocate for an inclusive, safe and dignified workplace for everyone at CBS News and Scott has been a supporter of these efforts.”
The embattled network has faced a string of ugly accusations and departures, including allegations of sexual harassment against Moonves, Flager, and former “60 Minutes” host Charlie Rose.