Report: Les Moonves Was in Talks With Charlie Rose’s Rep on New Two-Year Extension Prior to the Washington Post Story

By A.J. Katz 

Los Angeles Times TV & media reporter Steve Battaglio wrote an interesting story about the past, present and future of CBS News.

An notable portion focuses on Charlie Rose and how CBS News execs started thinking about a successor to Rose in early 2017, even before the Washington Post reported eight women had accused Rose of sexual harassment at multiple networks, going back decades.

Earlier that year, Rose, then 75, underwent heart surgery. He appeared tired on the air on some mornings but refused to slow down, often flying to locations overseas on the weekend to conduct interviews.

CBS News executives wanted Rose to announce in early 2018 that he would leave later in the year, giving them enough time to have his successor appear on the program as a fill-in.

Former CBS Corp. chairman Les Moonves apparently had other ideas, which included giving Rose an extension and pay bump. This is before the WaPo story was published. Of course neither man is at the company anymore.

But while those plans were gestating, Moonves was in negotiations with Rose’s friend and representative David Geffen on a new two-year extension that would have raised the anchor’s salary $1 million to $5 million a year, said a person familiar with the talks.

The deal was not finalized before Rhodes fired Rose on Nov. 21, a swift dismissal intended to demonstrate that CBS News was serious about changing its workplace culture. An outside law firm continues to conduct an investigation into the company and the news division regarding harassment allegations.

Battaglio also notes the impact Rose’s absence has had on CBS This Morning’s ratings, which, as we wrote about earlier, have not been so hot lately (though neither have ABC’s or NBC’s morning shows). “Research conducted by CBS shows that 25% of the CBS This Morning viewers were tuning in for Rose and have been leaving because he’s no longer there.”

Anchor transitions are the toughest part of running a news division, and CBS has a mixed record under CBS News president David Rhodes, Battaglio notes. CBS Sunday Morning has been posting year-over-year ratings growth with Jane Pauley now as host. The former Today host succeeded Charles Osgood in the prominent role.

Yet going from Scott Pelley to Jeff Glor on The CBS Evening News has yet to pay dividends on the ratings front.