Scott Pelley: ‘I Lost My Job at the Evening News Because I Wouldn’t Stop Complaining to Management About the Hostile Work Environment’

By A.J. Katz 

Earlier today, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent and former CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley claimed that he was dismissed from the network’s flagship newscast roughly two years ago because he raised complaints to CBS Corp. and CBS News executives about news division’s workplace culture.

Pelley referred to the environment to it as “hostile” to both men and women.

“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 remarked during an appearance on Brian Stelter‘s CNN program Reliable Sources. “I lost my job at the Evening News because I wouldn’t stop complaining to management about the hostile work environment.”

 “Several years ago—four or five years ago—I went to the president of the news division and explained to him that this hostile work environment couldn’t go on for women and men. He told me that if I kept agitating about that internally, then I’d lose my job.

I went to his boss and he told me that he didn’t share my concerns, and, having exhausted the possibilities in the news division, I went to the chairman of the CBS Corporation, who listened to me very concerned for an hour, and asked some penetrating questions about what was going on. I didn’t hear back from him, but in the next opportunity in my contract, I was let go from the Evening News.”

Pelley was Evening News anchor from June 6, 2011 – June 16, 2017.

He never mentioned any of the former CBS executives by name during today’s appearance on CNN, which seemed a bit odd. However, he was most certainly referring to then-CBS News president David Rhodes, then-CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Les Moonves, and then-CBS News chairman (Rhodes boss)-turned-60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager.

In response, the former CBS News president, Rhodes told The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove: “That simply never happened,” and added: “And if he had those conversations about this with anybody, it wasn’t with me.”

According to a CBS News spokesperson, “Scott was expressing his own opinion. We disagree. 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.”

60 Minutes is on hiatus for the summer, though correspondents often work on stories during the summer months to get a jump start on the fall season.

It’s also worth noting that the network is celebrating Pelley’s new book Truth Worth Telling, with a party in a couple weeks.

Rumors have circulated around television news circles for years that Pelley and Rhodes didn’t have a particularly great relationship. This seems to confirm that.

A source also told TVNewser the day it was confirmed that Pelley would be leaving the newscast (May 30, 2017) that he had arranged to have his office cleaned out hours earlier.

Weeks later, Rhodes admitted he was “concerned” about the recent messy transition of Pelley out of the CBS Evening News anchor chair.

Pelley has said that he felt the network has gone in a positive direction since Zirinsky was given the keys to CBS News back in March, and added that she “has CBS News DNA.” Additionally, Pelley spoke highly of CBS CEO Joe Ianniello and Bill Owens, the onetime executive editor of 60 Minutes-turned executive producer, and a longtime Pelley colleague.

In an interview with TVNewser the previous November (2016), Pelley told us anchoring both Evening News and reporting for 60 Minutes had been taking a toll on his family. “But the synergy is tremendous,” he added. “That’s what gives me the fire in the belly to do this job, is being out in the field, talking to people, and hearing what they have to say about their lives all around the world. And so I can’t give that up.”