The anchor, a veteran of CBS News’ “60 Minutes” and “CBS Evening News” alleged Sunday that he was taken off CBS’ evening-news broadcast in 2017 after raising complaints internally about the news division’s workplace culture. “We’ve been through a dark period of the last several years of incompetent management and sort of a hostile work environment within the news division,” Pelley said during a segment on the CNN program “Reliable Sources.” He added: “I lost my job at the ‘Evening News’ because I wouldn’t stop complaining to management about the hostile work environment.”
Pelley alleged he took his concerns to senior management at CBS News as well as the chairman of CBS Corp.
“Scott was expressing his own opinion. We disagree,” CBS News said in a statement. “CBS News has been working hard to advocate for an inclusive, safe and dignified workplace for everyone at CBS News and Scott has been a supporter of these efforts.”
David Rhodes, former president of CBS News, did not respond immediately to a message seeking comment.
The remarks are the latest to indicate the troubled culture that incubated at CBS Corp. and CBS News over a period of time. Tensions at the unit first came to light after former “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose was ousted in the wake of several women claiming he had made unwanted sexual advances on them, predominantly under the aegis of his long-running PBS program, “Charlie Rose.” Other allegations were made against the work environment at “60 Minutes” as it was run under former executive producer Jeff Fager. Fager has denied claims made against him, and left CBS News last year. CBS Corp. ousted longtime CEO Leslie Moonves last year after a New Yorker article detailed multiple allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted behavior. Moonves has denied the claims.
Pelley, who is slated to be honored by CBS News with a book party celebrating his new memoir, “Truth Worth Telling,” on June 12, alleged he visited several top CBS News executives to warn them of a “hostile work environment” for women and men. Pelley said on CNN that he went to the “president of the news division” — Rhodes served as president between 2011 and early 2019 — and was told he ought to stop “agitating” about the matter. He also alleged he had a substantial conversation with the “chairman of CBS,” who would have been Moonves, about his allegations.
Pelley never mentioned any of the former CBS executives he cited by name.
Rhodes told The Daily Beast Sunday, “That simply never happened,” and added: “And if he had those conversations about this with anybody, it wasn’t with me.”
People familiar with the internal workings of CBS News have long maintained that Pelley and Rhodes had a strained relationship, evidenced by Pelley’s abrupt decamping to “60 Minutes” before a successor at “Evening News” had been named.
Pelley also said he felt CBS News had made strides under Susan Zirinsky, who took the reins of the news division in March. He said Zirinsky, a presence at CBS News for decades and the first woman to lead the unit, “has CBS News DNA.” He also praised CBS CEO Joe Ianniello and Bill Owens, a longtime Pelley colleague recently named the new executive producer at “60 Minutes.”
“I’m very excited. I know these people,” Pelley said on “Reliable Sources. ” I know we’re on the right track.”