CBS could be looking to replace Norah O’Donnell on ‘Evening News’

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell’s job could be in danger as the network looks to cut costs amid distant third place ratings.

O’Donnell is estimated to make about $8 million a year and the network also invested in moving “Evening” to Washington, D.C., where the anchor and her family live.

At the time, the move was touted as a way to be closer to the movers and shakers in Washington, but that idea hasn’t resonated with viewers, who continue to keep the broadcast third place, significantly behind “ABC World News Tonight” and “NBC Nightly News.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, “Evening” hasn’t really had much of a chance to showcase how being closer to lawmakers and other D.C. insiders could make the broadcast stand out — with most guests appearing remotely of the past year or so (even if they were just a few miles from the studio).

Although CBS execs have publicly denied any anchor shakeups or moves, sources told Page Six that the network may be looking to replace O’Donnell and move the broadcast back to New York.

O’Donnell is said, at least by some, to have lobbied hard for the “Evening News” job and the move to D.C. (though then CBS News president Susan Zirinsky says it was her idea) as a way to escape the morning newscast shift where she reportedly had a strained relationship with co-anchor Gayle King.

Multiple sources say the two were engaged in a power struggle of sorts over who was the “lead” anchor. Since O’Donnell departed, King remained with the broadcast as the de facto lead anchor, also getting a boost in pay but ratings continue to be disappointing.

O’Donnell has about a year left on her current contract, so it’s not clear when executives would make changes, if any, but at least some insiders seem to think the network either needs to get her to take a pay cut or move her into a different role with an adjusted salary to match.

For example, one idea is that if she were to take a reduction in pay it could make “Evening” more economically viable. However, whether she would be willing to accept such an adjustment remains to be seen.

Insiders have also told multiple outlets that CBS corporate is demanding the news division cut costs since it can’t seem to deliver in ratings during the two major dayparts.

One potential cost cutting move could be to move “Evening” back to New York, though it’s not clear how much it would save, especially as broadcasters move more toward production methods spurred on, at least in part, by the pandemic, that let everything from cameras to lighting to graphics be controlled from almost any location with Internet access.