CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell Deny ‘Beef’ Sparked Major CBS Shakeup
O’Donnell will leave ‘CBS This Morning’ as part of sweeping changes across the network.
CBS This Morning co-hosts, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell denied there was a rift between them and hit out at critics Monday morning as a major CBS shakeup was announced.
“The news should rarely be about us, sometimes it isn’t true,” King said, during a segment on the show. She decried reports that she had “insisted” O’Donnell leave the morning show—she will take over as host of CBS Evening News.
“I have no beef with you. You have no beef with me,” King said to O’Donnell, citing Tina Brown who claimed such reports were sexist.
Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil will join Gayle King as co-hosts on the CBS This Morning program, which has launched King to star status after a string of high-profile interviews this year. John Dickerson will move to 60 Minutes.
King explained that CBS President Susan Zirinsky had promised changes when she took over earlier this year. “She could have wielded a weed whacker,” and all of them could have been out on 57th Street, hailing taxis. “This is a business about ratings, and if things don’t work they make changes.”
O’Donnell said King and Oprah Winfrey had advised her not to listen to those “in the cheap seats. It’s not the critic that counts.”
She told King, “You have made me better in everything I’ve done.”
“I’m not sure about that,” said King.
“Accept the compliment,” laughed O’Donnell.
O’Donnell will become the new anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News starting this summer. She will replace Jeff Glor, who had a relatively short stint in the news anchor’s chair previously occupied by Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Katie Couric, and Scott Pelley.
“Bravo, Nora,” said King. The future of Glor is up in the air. King said, “Jeff is a fantastic journalist and trusted colleague. His conversation with CBS News continues. We hope very much he continues to work here. It will be his decision.”
Zirinsky announced sweeping changes across its popular news programs, marking what she called a “new era” for the troubled network.
O’Donnell will also be lead political anchor for CBS’s storied magazine program 60 Minutes. O’Donnell said the move was “incredibly humbling... I’m going to give this everything I’ve got. I don’t stand on the shoulders of my colleagues, they carry me on their backs.”
“Walter Cronkite once said, ‘I can’t imagine a person being a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got.’ I am going to give this everything I’ve got.”
Zirinsky said in a statement Monday: “This is a start of a new era for CBS News ... Our job is to reveal America to itself through original reporting, strong investigative journalism and powerful political coverage.”
Zirinsky took over the helm of the network in January after CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager and CBS CEO and Chairman Les Moonves were both let go over sexual-harassment scandals.