CBS made it official Tuesday: longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley is replacing Katie Couric as its “Evening News” anchor on June 6.
Pelley was the pick of former “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager, who was promoted to CBS News chairman in February.
Here’s the announcement:
Scott Pelley, one the most experienced reporters in broadcast journalism, has been named anchor and managing editor of the CBS EVENING NEWS, it was announced today by CBS News Chairman and “60 Minutes” Executive Producer Jeff Fager and David Rhodes, the President of CBS News. The appointment to the broadcast, to be re-named the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH SCOTT PELLEY, is effective on June 6. Pelley will continue to report stories for “60 Minutes.”
“Scott has it all. He has the experience, the credibility and he is among the very best reporters ever to work at CBS News,” said Fager. “In more than two decades at CBS News, he has distinguished himself at every level, right up to his current role at ‘60 Minutes,’ where his work has been incomparable. We like to think of CBS News as the ‘reporter’s network’ and I can’t think of anybody in this business better suited for the anchor chair than Scott.”
“Scott is the ideal journalist to lead this broadcast. We’re very proud to have him guiding this news organization’s reporting each and every evening,” said Rhodes. “He has a body of work few in the business can claim and will help us grow CBS News now and in the future.”
“I am delighted to join the terrific team at the ‘CBS Evening News,’” said Pelley. “It’s a privilege to work alongside the most gifted and talented journalists in the industry.”
Few reporters have made as wide and as deep a mark on a news organization as Pelley has at CBS News, where he’s covered everything from breaking national news stories to politics to wars and served as the network’s chief White House correspondent. Since he brought that experience to “60 Minutes” in 2004, half of all the major awards won by the broadcast have been for stories reported by Pelley.
Pelley’s recent “60 Minutes” reports include news-making and insightful segments on late-breaking stories such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the mass murder in Tucson that seriously wounded Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords. His extraordinary list of interview subjects includes: President George Bush; two unprecedented interviews with Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, during the recent economic upheaval known as the Great Recession. It was the first time in decades that a sitting Federal Reserve Chairman allowed an interview. Pelley also has interviewed Justice John Paul Stevens; Afghan President Hamid Karzai; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Sharif El-Gamal, the man behind the “Ground Zero mosque;” and the astonishing story of Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon who survived the explosion that caused the Gulf oil spill – a story that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia award.
The Great Recession has been one of the biggest stories in decades and no one has covered it as memorably or meaningfully as Pelley has, with a series of impactful “60 Minutes” stories. Last month, his story about homeless school children in Florida inspired an unprecedented outpouring of response that included a local church group’s pledge of $5.6 million. Other stories also raised awareness and charitable responses. He profiled the residents of Wilmington, Ohio, who were left stranded when the town’s largest employer, DHL, shut down its domestic operation. He reported on the “99ers,” the unemployed who ran through 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and still found themselves jobless and desperate. In addition, he reported on “Stand Down,” an annual encampment in San Diego to help homeless veterans, and did a Peabody-award-winning segment about Remote Area Medical, a volunteer medical organization that treats thousands of uninsured Americans.
Pelley’s team’s investigation into American “e-waste,” tracing the secret shipment of discarded toxic technology such as video monitors to overseas wastelands, won six awards: an Emmy, the George Polk, the RTDNA Murrow award, Sigma Delta Chi, the Loeb award and an Investigative Reporters and Editors prize. He broke news with “Rendition,” an Emmy-award-winning investigation into the CIA’s practice of handing over terrorist suspects to foreign countries known to use torture. For a “60 Minutes II” investigation on child slavery in India, Pelley and his team won an Investigative Reporters and Editors award in 1999.
His riveting interview of a Marine Corps sergeant, who led a squad accused of killing 22 civilians, in Haditha, Iraq, won a 2007 George Foster Peabody Award. Another intense interview, the first in which former CIA Director George Tenet broke his silence about 9/11, won the Pelley team an Emmy.
On September 11th, Pelley was among the first reporters to arrive on the scene of the twin towers. His award-winning live reports from ground zero and the subsequent search and recovery operations exhibited his innate ability to provide a deeper understanding of news events.
Pelley’s work during the Clinton White House was also remarkable. He broke more stories than anyone. In fact, he was first to report that Monica Lewinsky had become a cooperating witness in the investigation conducted by the Office of the Independent Counsel. He also reported on the impeachment of President Clinton and was first to report that President Clinton had been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury. Additionally, while reporting from the White House, Pelley covered presidential tours of South America, Africa, China and Europe. He also conducted the first interview with President-elect George W. Bush after the controversial 2000 election.
Pelley has covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq more than any other journalist in recent history. He was first to report live from the war zone after the invasion of Iraq and was one of the only reporters who did not embed with the military. Instead, he and his team went alone with two SUVs and, using a satellite dish, reported some of the most powerful stories from that war, including the fight for Umm Qasr and the fall of Basra. Following the invasion, Pelley reported on the uncovering of mass graves in Iraq and the guerrilla war against U.S. forces there.
In 1990, he was assigned for a year to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, during the Persian Gulf crisis. He covered Baghdad and later broadcast live reports during Iraqi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia. He joined the troops of the XVIII Airborne Corps for combat coverage of the invasion of Iraq and the liberation of Kuwait.
Before becoming chief White House correspondent, Pelley was assigned to the 1992 presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. Prior to that, he served as a CBS News correspondent based in Dallas, where he covered many of the biggest domestic stories, including the Oklahoma City bombing and the trial of Timothy McVeigh. He also reported on the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the Los Angeles Northridge earthquake, the Branch Davidian raid near Waco, Texas, Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo and NASA’s shuttle missions. Pelley joined CBS News as a reporter based in New York in 1989.
All told, Pelley and his team’s distinguished body of work have received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Silver Baton, two George Foster Peabody awards, 14 national Emmy awards, five Edward R. Murrow awards, a George Polk and a Loeb award, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Writers Guild of America. Twenty-one of those awards have been earned for his work over the past five years on “60 Minutes.”
Pelley serves on the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee, the refugee relief agency headquartered in New York City. He is Co-Chair of the IRC’s Board of Overseers. He was inducted into the Texas Tech University alumni Hall of Fame and serves on the board of the university’s School of Mass Communications.
Prior to his time at CBS News, Pelley was a producer/reporter for WFAA-TV Dallas/Fort Worth (1982-89), KXAS-TV Dallas/Fort Worth (1978-81) and KSEL-TV Lubbock, Texas (1975-78). He began his journalism career at the age of 15 as a copyboy at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper.
Scott Pelley was born in San Antonio, Texas, and attended journalism school at Texas Tech University. He and his wife, Jane Boone Pelley, have a son and a daughter.