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Inside CBS News’ Handling of Scott Pelley’s ‘Evening News’ Exit

A leak inside the organization ruined the network’s plans for an official announcement

CBS News was set to unveil plans for Scott Pelley to move off of “CBS Evening News” to focus on “60 Minutes” sometime next week, but a leak inside the organization squashed those plans.

The New York Post reported that Pelley was out at CBS News on Tuesday night, and while the tabloid was correct, the network didn’t get to roll out the plans for a proper announcement on its own terms. Two sources close to the situation told TheWrap that Pelley, based on his own travel schedule, personally had movers clean out his office on Tuesday. It appears that whoever leaked the information to the Post saw the office being emptied and spilled the beans before CBS was ready to make the announcement official.

CBS eventually distributed a release around 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday afternoon, roughly 15 hours after the Post’s story hit. The sources said that CBS wouldn’t make an official announcement until they spoke with Pelley, who was not available on Tuesday night.

CBS News executives are extremely upset about the way it was handled, as they are known for making smooth transitions, according to the CBS News sources. Once the network made the announcement themselves, it focused on Pelley helping “60 Minutes” as it enters its 50th season.

“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,” CBS News president David Rhodes said. “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.”

“CBS Evening News” executive producer Steve Capus called Pelley the “consummate professional,” and the veteran broadcaster thanked his colleagues.

“I find my heart filled with gratitude for the opportunity to know you, humility in light of your sacrifices, and hope for the future of journalism because of the standards you live by,” Pelley said. “CBS has been great to me for nearly 30 years. I’m glad to accept this assignment with continuing gratitude.”

Pelley took over “CBS Evening News” on June 6, 2011 and the broadcast grew its audience in each of the first five seasons.

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