CBS News named “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson as the new co-anchor of its “CBS This Morning,” placing the Washington anchor in a role that was previously filled by Charlie Rose. He will join Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell on the A.M. franchise.
Dickerson, who will start his new duties Wednesday morning, said in an interview he welcomed the chance to broaden the range of subjects he would present to viewers. “The political story is still one of the biggest stories. On some days, it’s the big story. I’m excited to be able to take what I do on Sundays and be able to do it during the week,” he said, speaking from an Acela train on its way to New York City. But, he said, “I get to comment on all the news for two hours – so that’s business, that’s all of the other things that are happening in America.”
Discussions about Dickerson joining “CBS This Morning” began in the last days of 2017, the anchor said.
Naming Dickerson to the role will end a period of uncertainty surrounding the program. The show has been without a regular third co-anchor since CBS ousted Rose in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment made against him by employees of his production company as well as staffers at CBS News. “I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate,” Rose said in a statement shortly after the disclsoure.” I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.”
And yet, the program has proved to be of growing strategic importance to the network. While “CBS This Morning” trails rivals “Today” and “Good Morning America” on NBC and ABC, respectively, in viewership, it has made significant ratings strides for CBS with a mix of hard-news focus and serious discussion about the headlines of the day. There are no cooking segments or pet mascots on “CBS This Morning,” though its Saturday broadcast regularly features musical performances by up and coming bands and singers (along with an in-depth report on what makes them different from the rest of the pack).
The anchor and CBS News executives expect “CBS This Morning” to maintain the elements that have helped the show capture attention in recent years – the conversations among three co-anchors who let their curiosity drive the discussion. “It’s a good conversation with friends at a coffee shop or a dinner table, It’s three people trying to figure out what’s goiong on,” he said. “I don’t know how to put that in a strategic flow chart.”
He joins the show at an interesting time for morning-news. Both “CBS This Morning” and NBC’s “Today” will as of tomorrow have new on-air teams, the result of the ousters of both Rose and former “Today” co-host Matt Lauer. Since Lauer left “Today,” the show has overtaken its main rival, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and over the last six weeks re-captured its status as the most-watched morning program. To be sure, the margin of victory between “Today” and “GMA” is razor-thin, and there’s no guarantee the NBC program can maintain its lead – though NBCUniversal’s coming February broadcast of the Olympics could certainly help.
CBS News executives are counting on the hard-news focus at “CBS This Morning” to help draw attention. “With John, Gayle, and Norah together we will be doubling down on serious news coverage. That’s what we’re all committed to at CBS News,” said CBS News President David Rhodes in a Tuesday memo. “Our three co-hosts together will represent those values to the audience every morning. Ryan Kadro is speaking with the CBS This Morning staff now about the plans for Wednesday’s broadcast.”
Dickerson has enjoyed a fairly quick rise among the CBS News ranks in recent years. He took the reins of the network’s Sunday public-affairs program, “Face the Nation,” in 2015, after a news career largely spent off camera. Dickerson has logged years covering politics for Slate and Time magazine, and spent nearly 20 years in Washington covering the White House, Congress and economics. He authored a longform series on presidential attributes, which won the Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency.
He had been political director for CBS News since 2011, and an on-air political analyst for CBS News since 2009. His mother was Nancy Dickerson, CBS’ News’ first female correspondent and an associate producer on the first broadcast of “Face the Nation” in 1954.