ABOVE PHOTO: Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell, and John Dickerson (Photos: Shutterstock)
By Lynn Elber
Norah O’Donnell will become anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” and Gayle King is getting two new morning show co-hosts as CBS News seeks to boost the programs’ ratings and put a tumultuous, scandal-scarred period behind it.
The changes announced Monday were orchestrated by Susan Zirinsky, a 47-year CBS News veteran who took over in March as the division’s president. Her predecessor left after Charlie Rose at “CBS This Morning” and the top executive at “60 Minutes” lost their jobs following misconduct allegations.
“This is a start of a new era for CBS News,” Zirinsky said in a statement. “Our job is to reveal America to itself through original reporting, strong investigative journalism and powerful political coverage.”
O’Donnell, 45, who replaces Jeff Glor as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” this summer, will be the third woman to serve as solo anchor of an evening newscast, following Diane Sawyer at ABC and Katie Couric at CBS. Starting in the fall, the program will be helmed from Washington instead of New York for the first time.
“I think about the legacy and I think about the history of CBS News and that it’s incredibly humbling to accept this position,” O’Donnell said. “I’m going to give this everything I got.”
She noted the reputation of Walter Cronkite, who anchored the broadcast for 19 years and was often referred to as “the most trusted man in America.”
O’Donnell was chief White House correspondent when she joined “CBS This Morning” in 2012, teaming up with Rose and King.
The 2017 decision by former CBS News president David Rhodes to appoint Glor as anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” replacing Scott Pelley, failed to produce ratings momentum. The newscast continues to trail ABC’s “World News Tonight” with anchor David Muir and “NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt.
Glor, 43, is still negotiating his future with CBS News.
King, 64, has cemented her importance to “CBS This Morning” with news making interviews, the most recent her high-profile interview with singer R. Kelly . She’ll be joined by longtime CBS journalist Anthony Mason and relative newcomer Tony Dokoupil, who joined the news division as a correspondent in 2016. Both have reported for “CBS Sunday Morning.”
“CBS This Morning,” designed as a newsier morning show than its rivals, was making steady progress in ratings and reputation until Rose’s firing, then started to slip in viewership. The morning programs that include NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” warrant the attention: They’re the most reliable profit centers for news divisions.
King addressed reports of tension between her and O’Donnell.
“I have no beef with you, and you have no beef with me. It’s two great jobs for two great women,” she said.
Bianna Golodryga, who joined “CBS This Morning” last fall as its fourth host, left the show and the network last month after being offered other work that she declined.
John Dickerson, 50, who hopscotched from political director to “Face the Nation” moderator in 2015 to “CBS This Morning” as Rose’s replacement in January 2018, will become a correspondent for “60 Minutes.” The droll newsman indicated he was content with the move, mentioning a long-time admiration for the venerable news magazine.
Rose, dismissed following sexual misconduct allegations , denied any improper behavior involving female staffers at CBS News.
In February, the incoming Zirinsky appointed Bill Owens appointed as executive producer of “60 Minutes.” He filled the void left by last fall’s firing of Jeff Fager for sending a threatening text message to a colleague writing a story about him. Fager denied wrongdoing.