CBS News Chief: ‘We Did Lose Some Viewers’ During Katie Couric Years

Jeff Fager sees a brighter future ahead with Scott Pelley as anchor

Last Updated: August 3, 2011 @ 4:02 PM

CBS News chairman Jeff Fager said Wednesday that he hopes viewers who tuned out from "CBS Evening News" during the Katie Couric years are being lured back by Scott Pelley.

"I think there’s no doubt that some of the people who are tuning in are coming back," said Fager, speaking at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "I think we did lose some viewers in recent years."

Fager expressed confidence that Pelley would thrive, even in a fractured marketplace that has allowed hordes of partisan cable news programs to siphon viewers from the kind of traditional, down-the-middle reporting Pelley says he aims to deliver.

Pelley was asked if he's heard from former "Evening News" anchor Dan Rather, a fellow Texan whom he referred to as "a great mentor of mine." He said he had, and added of Rather's messy departure in 2005, "I hate the way that it ended." 

He added: "But he will always have that important place in CBS News history."

Rather left after a CBS News report about President Bush's military service used fake memos. He later sued CBS for $70 million, saying he was scapegoated and pushed from the anchor chair and eventually out the door. The suit was dismissed.

Couric anchored the show for five years, beginning in 2006.