CBS News is considering making significant changes to its flagship “CBS Evening News,” according to four people with knowledge of the talks, part of a top-down look at the news division by incoming president Susan Zirinsky.
Executives are considering putting “CBS This Morning” anchor Norah O’Donnell in the lead role of its evening-news broadcast, these people said, as well as moving the broadcast to Washington, D.C. instead of its longtime roost in New York City. CBS News declined to make executives available for comment. These plans are not definitive, these people cautioned, and there is no guarantee they will come to fruition. Jeff Glor remains anchor of “CBS Evening News” at present.
The discussions about O’Donnell indicate a dissatisfaction with the “Evening News” performance under Jeff Glor, who was named “Evening News” anchor in October 2017. CBS’ flagship nightly broadcast has long trailed its rivals on ABC and NBC, but in the past year the telecast’s ratings have fallen further behind.
Glor has faced many challenges during a rookie stint in the slot, including a change from one “CBS Evening News” executive producer with years of experience to one whose experience is more tied to CBS’ digital-news operations. He has also been undermined by speculation early on in his tenure about ratings, although David Rhodes, current president of CBS News, has said he never expected “CBS Evening News” to surge immediately after an anchor change. And CBS News has been roiled in recent months as part of a legal probe into both the culture of the news division and its parent company.
Such a move would mean a big change for “CBS This Morning,” the morning show that O’Donnell has co-anchored since July 2012. Relocating to Washington, D.C. would allow O’Donnell to be closer to her family rather that commuting between New York and the capital as she has since she signed on to “CBS This Morning.”
O’Donnell has distinguished herself at CBS News for in-depth reporting and her ability to land big interviews, such as her sit-down that has aired this week with Priscilla Chan, philanthropist and wife of Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg. Last year she landed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and FBI director Christopher Wray, among others.
“CBS This Morning” has been in flux for some time. The ouster of Charlie Rose in late 2017 prompted a reworking of the show’s lineup. John Dickerson and Bianna Golodryga have joined Gayle King and O’Donnell at the show’s desk, bringing the group to four.
If O’Donnell were to move to “Evening News,” she would undoubtedly still have a presence on “This Morning” in her role as an “Evening News” anchor and “60 Minutes” contributors. The network morning shows have become the key launching pad for interview gets and news scoops for other news broadcasts, given that the morning shows are consistently more popular and buzzy than the traditional early evening newscasts of record.
O’Donnell joined CBS News in 2011 as chief White House correspondent after more than a decade at NBC News. If appointed, she would be the second woman to anchor “CBS Evening News,” following Katie Couric’s run in the chair between 2006 and 2011.