Scott Pelley said to be out at 'CBS Evening News' anchor desk

UPDATE: CBS News Wednesday afternoon confirmed that Pelley would be leaving as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" to work full time on "60 Minutes," where he had been a part-time correspondent.

After six years of third-place finishes in the network news race, Scott Pelley is said to be out as anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News.”

The 59-year-old is expected to remain as a correspondent on “60 Minutes.”

The news of Pelley’s departure from the anchor desk was first reported by the New York Post. The Sun independently confirmed the report with two sources.

Pelley’s office at “CBS Evening News” was cleared out Tuesday while he was on assignment for “60 Minutes,” according to the Post. But it appears that it was done at his request, a source said.

The evening news and “60 Minutes” are housed in separate locations.

CBS, which has offered no comment, is expected to announce the change today.

While CBS News has tried to brand itself as the newscast of record, the one TV newscast that hewed to the highest traditional standards of journalism stamped in the network’s DNA by pioneering newsman Edward R. Murrow, it never seemed to take hold with viewers once Pelley settled in after an initial ratings bump.

Instead, in TV terms, Pelley often came off as stiff, formal and self-important in presideing over an evening news that seemed out of step with the pace of digital media today.

While the paper of record, the New York Times, added more than 300,000 digital subscriptions with its tough but mostly traditional coverage of Donald Trump since November, “CBS Evening News” remained mired in third place behind NBC and ABC.

“60 Minutes,” meanwhile, is the highest-rated news program on American television.

Pelley took over at the anchor desk in 2011 after the expensive and failed tenure of Katie Couric as anchor and managing editor. Couric had become managing editor and anchor in 2006, a year after longtime anchor Dan Rather was ousted. Bob Schieffer filled in on an interim basis between Rather and Couric, and enjoyed some of the best ratings the evening news has seen in the last 20 years.

Starting with the ouster of founder Roger Ailes at Fox News in July, this has been a tumultuous year in the TV news business as networks and cable channels try to find their way in a new media ecosystem.

CBS was due for a change in its evening news.

It is not clear whether CBS News will go to an interim anchor as it did with Schieffer, or if it has someone on its bench ready to step in.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

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