A possible shakeup is reportedly afoot at a major network’s news operation, with rumors swirling that Norah O’Donnell, anchor of CBS Evening News, in on the verge of being replaced due to dismal ratings, an exorbitantly high salary, and strained relationships with both on- and off-camera colleagues, according to the New York Post.
Sources familiar with the situation revealed that the 47-year-old O’Donnell is currently at the mercy of cost-cutting network executives who are asking questions about the wisdom of paying her reportedly $8 million annual salary when the program she helms notches consistently poor ratinngs.
O’Donnell has been in the anchor chair for the high-profile evening time slot since 2019 after leaving co-hosting duties at CBS This Morning alongside Gayle King, with whom she was said to have a difficult working relationship.
At that time, network executives agreed to move the evening news broadcast from New York City to Washington, D.C. so that O’Donnell would not have to uproot her three children or create career disruption for her chef husband, Geoff Tracy, according to the Post.
Notably, inside sources have told the outlet that Neeraj Khemlani, recently tapped together with former ABC power player Wendy McMahon to jointly take the helm at CBS News, is plotting not just to replace the current evening host, but also bring the show’s production back to the Big Apple, though he has attempted to tamp down such speculation.
According to one insider speaking to the Post, however, “Neeraj is charged with bringing down costs and boosting profits and he does not understand why the Evening News is in D.C.,” seemingly lending credibility to reports that O’Donnell’s tenure at the show is likely coming to an end.
Perhaps weakening her prospects for remaining in her current perch of prestige are reports that O’Donnell became known at the network for “diva-like” behavior that included dismissive attitudes toward support staff, excessive demands for designer clothing even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and accusations that she routinely engaged in “divisive” and “toxic” conduct with co-workers.
Some of those in the know regarding O’Donnell’s fading fortunes at the evening news anchor desk attribute her downfall to the fact that the host herself brought nothing fresh or innovative to the job. “She is a woman version of an outdated anchor. Her appointment was an example of the worst kind of change. It was about optics.”
Unfortunately, the phenomenon in which mainstream network news divisions are far less concerned about substance than about presenting information through an unflinchingly liberal lens is nothing new, and it seems doubtful that O’Donnell’s potentially imminent departure will do much to effect any real change at CBS.