Norah O’Donnell Makes Her Next Career Move

Norah O’Donnell
Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage
Dylan Byers
April 8, 2022

Anyone who follows the sordid, off-camera drama of television news would be justified in thinking that Norah O’Donnell was not long for CBS News. O’Donnell, of course, had taken over the historic Evening News telecast, in part, because of a Susan Zirinsky-era deck chair rearrangement that attempted to reset the chemistry on This Morning, which sort of only had room for Gayle King’s ego, and revamp the nightly newscast, which had been rudderless in the Scott Pelley and Jeff Glor eras. 

The move seemed clever, and certainly worth the flier. And O’Donnell, a respected newscaster, was given the room she needed. Evening News relocated to Washington, positioning the perennial third-place program as a little more serious and ponderous than its peers. Chris Licht, the new CNN president, had indeed crafted a similar playbook back in the day when he turned around This Morning

But the O’Donnell era at Evening News was beset by management change (Zirinksy, it turned out, was not long for the C-suite) and endless industry gossip. For months, O’Donnell has been the subject of anonymously-sourced tabloid hit pieces that attacked her ratings and her character, and cast doubt on her future at the network. Neeraj Khemlani, the co-president of CBS News, often responded to these stories with curt and canned corporate statements that lacked any real declaration of support or assurances about her future. And as I have previously reported, as recently as January, Khemlani was still imploring the veteran newsman Brian Williams to consider replacing O’Donnell as the anchor of the Evening News—or at least to come to CBS News in some role that would conceivably diminish O’Donnell’s own stature as the face of the news network.