CBS has announced who will replace Katie Couric as anchor of “CBS Evening News” when Couric departs the program in June: Scott Pelley.
Pelley, who has been a contributor to “60 Minutes” for the last 12 years, was immediately rumored to be a frontrunner for the anchor spot when Couric’s departure was still just a rumor. Tuesday morning’s announcement was largely anticlimactic, both because of the rumors and Pelley’s history in network journalism.
“The announcement is pretty much the opposite of everything Couric’s was: it’s not groundbreaking, risky or surprising,” wrote James Poniwozik for Time, going on to call Pelley the anti-Couric.
Choosing Pelley marks CBS’ return to the old formula: A middle-aged, white man reading the nightly news. CBS’ newscast has consistently come in last place, behind NBC’s Brian Williams-helmed show and ABC’s “World News” with Diane Sawyer. When Couric took the desk in 2006, she was the first female to anchor an evening network newscast solo (Connie Chung was a co-anchor on NBC from 1993 to 1995). Prior to Couric, a long line of white men had led the newscast since the network’s inception: Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer.
Couric was hailed as an outsider due to both her gender and her previous job, co-host of NBC’s Today. After an initial ratings high when she began, Couric’s number sank to the network’s all-time low.
“With Pelley, [NBC] seems to be trying to offer familiarity to the viewers the third-place network still has, and, well, hoping something breaks its way in the future,” Poniewozik wrote.
Pelley, 53, has reported for CBS most of his professional life, covering the White House, wars, elections and U.S. presidents. Pelley’s interview with colleague Lara Logan about her sexual assault in Cairo aired May 1. Dan Rather called Pelley a “true believer in the CBS legend, history and myth.”
In a statement this morning, CBS News chairman Jeff Fager praised Pelley’s work.
“Scott has it all. He has the experience, the credibility and he is among the very best reporters ever to work at CBS News,” Fager said. “In more than two decades at CBS News, he has distinguished himself at every level, right up to his current role at ’60 Minutes,’ where his work has been incomparable. We like to think of CBS News as the ‘reporter’s network’ and I can’t think of anybody in this business better suited for the anchor chair than Scott.”
Images via Wikimedia Commons.