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CBS News president and senior executive producer Susan Zirinsky on Monday unveiled a new weekday anchor lineup, naming Norah O’Donnell anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News and Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil co-hosts of CBS This Morning.
The new morning team takes over May 20, while CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell will debut this summer in New York before moving to its permanent home in Washington in the fall.
The changes were announced at 6:45 a.m. via press release; 15 minutes later, at the top of the show, King, who has secured a lucrative new deal worth close to $11 million, according to sources, broke the news to CBS viewers immediately after the “Eye Opener” segment.
“We have some headlines of our own this morning. You might have been reading about all the speculation. We thought today would be a good day to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Hello, horses,” said King, addressing O’Donnell and John Dickerson.
“This is a big day for Norah O’Donnell,” she continued. “In our world of television journalism, there is no job that carries a prouder tradition or crucial responsibility.”
King then acknowledged Jeff Glor, who has been anchoring CBS Evening News since December 2017 and has endured near constant speculation about his status on the broadcast.
“Jeff Glor is a fantastic journalist and trusted colleague here,” said King. “His conversations with CBS News continue. We all hope very much that he will continue working here. It will be his decision.”
O’Donnell invoked Walter Cronkite, the legendary anchor of CBS Evening News during the Kennedy assassination and Watergate. “I think about the legacy and the history of CBS News and it’s incredibly humbling to accept this position,” she said. “I’m going to give this everything I’ve got. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for and why I think there’s been such speculation about it.”
Moving CBS Evening News to D.C. is a bold and expensive move that Zirinsky hopes will infuse the broadcast with a renewed sense of urgency at a time when the 6:30 p.m. broadcasts continue to grapple with the digital disruption. Executives also hope that relocating the show will give CBS Evening News a leg up in access to top lawmakers. It is also where O’Donnell, a married mom of three, was based prior to joining CBS This Morning in 2012, and while working in New York she has been shuttling back to Washington on weekends.
Addressing O’Donnell, King pointed out that the move was “Susan Zirinsky’s idea, not yours.”
Indeed, it’s been a point of frustration — and fear — inside CBS News about what relocating the show would mean for the New York-based staff of CBS Evening News. Discussions about how to execute the move are ongoing, but sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that much of the senior staff could continue to be based in New York. Meanwhile, the show will need a new executive producer, as Mosheh Oinounou has told the staff that his last day will be May 17.
“This is a start of a new era for CBS News,” said Zirinsky in a statement announcing the moves. “Our job is to reveal America to itself through original reporting, strong investigative journalism and powerful political coverage.”
O’Donnell also will be the network’s lead anchor for political coverage of the primaries and election nights and continue as a contributing correspondent for 60 Minutes. “Norah is one of the leading journalists of our time,” Zirinsky added. “Her outstanding reporting, incisive interviews and dedication to the truth will distinguish the CBS Evening News every night.”
Zirinsky also addressed the future of Glor. “We are grateful to Jeff Glor for his award-winning work and his commitment to both his colleagues and to our viewers,” she said. “As we transition the Evening News to Washington, we are discussing opportunities for Jeff to remain with CBS News and continue providing the same substantive, trusted reporting that he has been offering for the past 12 years.”
King has co-hosted CBS This Morning since 2012. Mason most recently anchored CBS This Morning: Saturday. Dokoupil “established himself at CBS Sunday Morning doing powerful and provocative cover stories and pieces for all CBS News programs,” the network said.
CBS News also announced that Dickerson will report for 60 Minutes as a correspondent and contribute to CBS News’ election specials.
News of the changes broke several days ago, first in the New York Post‘s Page Six, which posited that King was trying to push O’Donnell off of the morning show. Zirinsky strongly rebutted that assertion in a statement. And King and O’Donnell both addressed the rumors on Monday’s show.
“The news should rarely be about us and sometimes what you read isn’t even true,” said King. “Thursday, I’m flying to London (for a special about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s baby). … The news breaks that Gayle is elbowing Norah, is insisting that Norah leave CBS This Morning. It’s so amazing to me, Norah, that after seven years together that people would say that now you and I have some beef. I have no beef with you, you have no beef with me. ”