Scott Pelley was fired as CBS News host ‘over complaints to execs’

The 72nd Annual Peabody Awards the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, NYC May 20, 2013 Photos by Sonia Moskowitz,
Scott Pelley said he was fired from his position as CBS Evening News anchor after he complained about the workplace culture. Pic credit: @ImageCollect/Globe-Photos

Scott Pelley, former CBS Evening News anchor and 60 Minutes correspondent, told CNN’s Reliable Source host Brian Stelter on Sunday that he lost his position as anchor of the CBS news program in June 2017 because he complained repeatedly to management about CBS news division’s “hostile work environment.”

He made the comment after Stelter asked him about his experience working for the network’s news division.

“I lost my job at the Evening News because I wouldn’t stop complaining to management about the hostile work environment,” Pelley said.

When Stelter pressed him further, Pelley opened up, saying that before he was forced out of his position as CBS Evening News anchor, he went to David Rhodes, who was then president of CBS News, and complained about what he called the “hostile work environment.”

Pelley said he told Rhodes that “this hostile work environment couldn’t go on, for women and men.”

“He told me if I kept agitating about that internally then I’d lose my job,” Pelley said.

Pelley said that when he got no positive response from Rhodes, he went another executive who was higher up than Rhodes but he did not share Pelley’s concerns about the workplace culture.

Pelley finally went to Les Moonves, the CBS CEO who was forced out of the network in September 2018 following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct after Pelley left CBS June 2017.

“I went to the chairman of the CBS corporation who listened to me very concerned for an hour, asked me some penetrating questions about what was going on,” Pelley continued. “I didn’t hear back from him but in the next opportunity in my contact, I was let go from the Evening News.”

But Pelley said that despite the multiple departures in recent months and problems due to “incompetent management” and “hostile work environment,” he was hopeful of a brighter future for CBS News under 60 Minutes executive producer Bill Owens, CBS News head Susan Zirinksky and acting CEO Joe Ianniello.

“It’s all blue sky from here,” Pelley said. “I know these people and I know we’re on the right track.”

CBS responds to Pelley

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for CBS News responded with a statement to Pelley’s comments on CNN’s Reliable Sources.

“Scott was expressing his own opinion. We disagree,” the statement said. “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.”

It wasn’t clear whether Pelley’s complaint about a “hostile work environment” had anything to do with the sexual misconduct allegations that eventually led to CBS This Morning host Charlie Ross being fired from the show.

Other executives who have left CBS since Pelley include CBS News president David Rhodes who departed in March 2019 and 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager who left earlier in September 2018.

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