Anthony Mason Will Become Interim ‘CBS Evening News’ Anchor Post-Pelley Axing [UPDATED]

UPDATE, 5:13 p.m. Eastern: CBS News finally released statements Wednesday afternoon announcing the decision from CBS News president David Rhodes and 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager. 

Here’s the statements as part of TV Newser’s coverage on the Pelley move: 

Scott brought the best values of 60 Minutes to the CBS Evening News, and we thank him for his commitment to the journalism of this broadcast every night these past six years,” said CBS News president David Rhodes. “The milestone 50th season of 60 Minutes requires Scott’s full contribution, and we look forward to important reporting from him for many years to come.”

“It is exciting for all of us, and good for our viewers, that he will be focusing all of his efforts on 60 Minutes,” added Jeff Fager, executive producer of the nation’s No. 1 newsmagazine.

(....)

“Scott’s tenure has been one of the finest chapters in the history of this storied broadcast,” said Steve Capus, Executive Editor of CBS News and Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News. “Scott’s commitment to outstanding journalism, enterprise reporting and memorable storytelling has propelled the CBS Evening News to new heights and made the broadcast a showcase for excellence.”

TV Newser also reported that Mason will continue co-hosting CBS This Morning: Saturday with far-left former MSNBC host Alex Wagner.

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Deadline: Hollywood, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, and others reported early Wednesday morning that longtime CBS News correspondent, CBS This Morning: Saturday co-host, and regular fill-in personality Anthony Mason will receive the interim CBS Evening News anchor job following Scott Pelley’s firing.

Stories (like this one from Page Six) have speculated that Pelley’s days at the CBS Evening News were numbered after having taken over for the failed tenure of Katie Couric in 2011. 

In addition to Pelley being away from the anchor desk on Tuesday, Deadline: Hollywood noted that “Pelley was a conspicuous no-show at CBS’ upfront presentation to media buyers at Carnegie Hall this month,” which usually includes the network news personalities, (such as what NBC did by showcasing Megyn Kelly alongside their other mainstays).

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The Hollywood Reporter’s Marissa Guthrie offered this take, citing a CBS source that compared a Mason tenure to that of Bob Schieffer, after Dan Rather’s fake news escapade: 

Anthony Mason will serve as interim anchor of the CBS Evening News after Scott Pelley was pushed out of the chair. The broadcast is still titled the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and sources at the network say Pelley will return to say farewell to viewers. The network has yet to officially announce Pelley's departure but a statement is expected soon. 

Mason has served as among the main fill-in anchors for Pelley. Some inside CBS News say he could eventually land the job officially. But one source compared his role to that of Bob Schieffer after Dan Rather left and before Katie Couric debuted on the program in September 2006. The difference this time is CBS News executives are unlikely to try to make a big (and expensive) splash by recruiting a high-priced anchor from a competing news division the way they did with Couric. 

Guthrie added that a source told her Pelley is “thrilled” to go back to devote his full attention to 60 Minutes, but wasn’t pleased with how his departure from CBS Evening News came about.

Here’s more on Mason’s bio from The Wrap

Mason has spent over 30 years as a television journalist, reporting from more than 30 countries and winning seven Emmy awards. He joined CBS News in 1986.

Mason was assigned to the London Bureau from 1987-1990 and was CBS News’ Chief Moscow Correspondent from 1991-1993. He was named CBS News’ Business Correspondent in 1998, and has been involved in election coverage for CBS News over the last decade, providing exit poll analysis during the primaries and on election night.

NewsBusters readers will remember Mason as a frequent fill-in host on not only CBS This Morning but CBS Evening News as well, covering everything from business to music to politics to unemployment rates.

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