Scott Pelley alleges he lost ‘evening news’ anchor job for complaints about work culture

Just as CBS News is pushing to turn a corner on a more than a year of internal turmoil, veteran anchor Scott Pelley shone a light back on to its recent past.

The anchor, a veteran of CBS News’ “60 Minutes” and “CBS Evening News” alleged Sunday that he was taken off CBS’ evening-news broadcast in 2017 after raising complaints internally about the news division’s workplace culture. “We’ve been through a dark period of the last several years of incompetent management and sort of a hostile work environment within the news division,” Pelley said during a segment on the CNN program “Reliable Sources.” He added: “I lost my job at the ‘Evening News’ because I wouldn’t stop complaining to management about the hostile work environment.”

Pelley alleged he took his concerns to senior management at CBS News as well as the chairman of CBS Corp.

“Scott was expressing his own opinion. We disagree,” CBS News said in a statement. “CBS News has been working hard to advocate for an inclusive, safe and dignified workplace for everyone at CBS News and Scott has been a supporter of these efforts.”

David Rhodes, former president of CBS News, did not respond immediately to a message seeking comment.

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Scott Pelley out and about
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Scott Pelley out and about
AUSTIN, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 22: Scott Pelley attends the 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Awards at The Bass Concert Hall on February 22, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 22: Scott Pelley (R) and wife Jane Boone attend the 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Awards at The Bass Concert Hall on February 22, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Scott Pelley and his wife, Jane Boone, arrive for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State John F. Kerry at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2016. The 2016 honorees are: Argentine pianist Martha Argerich; rock band the Eagles; screen and stage actor Al Pacino; gospel and blues singer Mavis Staples; and musician James Taylor. (Photo by Ron Sachs - Pool via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 8: CBS EVENING NEWS Anchor Scott Pelley and CBS News Director of Elections Anthony Salvanto anchor CBS News' Campaign: 2016 Election Night coverage on Nov. 8 at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 8: CBS EVENING NEWS Anchor Scott Pelley anchors CBS News' Campaign: 2016 Election Night coverage on Nov. 8 at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 8: CBS News Contributor Bob Schieffer, CBS THIS MORNING Co-Host Gayle King, CBS EVENING NEWS Anchor Scott Pelley, CBS THIS MORNING Co-Host Norah O'Donnell, FACE THE NATION Anchor John Dickerson and CBS THIS MORNING Co-Host Charlie Rose anchor CBS News' Campaign: 2016 Election Night coverage on Nov. 8 at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)
HEMPSTEAD - SEPTEMBER 26: CBS EVENING NEWS Anchor and Managing Editor Scott Pelley and FACE THE NATION Anchor and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson interview Gov. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) during CBS News' live coverage of the first presidential debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 12: During a CBS THIS MORNING broadcast outside the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, the museum's director Lonnie Bunch describes the design to CBS EVENING NEWS' Scott Pelley and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. (Photo by Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 25: John Dickerson, Gayle King, Scott Pelley, Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose report from the floor of the Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND - JULY 18: CBS EVENING NEWS Anchor and Managing Editor Scott Pelley and CBS THIS MORNING Co-Host Norah O'Donnell report from the floor of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, July 18, 2016. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 23: CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley nears its fifth anniversary on air. (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Journalist and news anchor Scott Pelley speak onstage at the Annual Freedom Award Benefit Event hosted by International Rescue Committee on November 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for IRC)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Journalist and news anchor Scott Pelley (L) and Boubacar Barry attend the Annual Freedom Award Benefit Event hosted by International Rescue Committee on November 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for IRC)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Scott Pelley attends Bob Simon's Memorial Service on February 17, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 17: CBS Evening News Anchor and Managing Editor Scott Pelley in New York. (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: News anchor Scott Pelley speaks onstage at the Annual Freedom Award Benefit hosted by the International Rescue Committee at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on November 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for International Rescue Committee)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 20: Scott Pelley attends the 72nd Annual George Foster Peabody Awards at The Waldorf=Astoria on May 20, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 03: Chairman of CBS News Jeff Fager (L) and Anchor and Managing Editor Scott Pelley speak during the 'CBS Evening News Presentation' panel during the CBS portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 3, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23: CBS EVENING NEWS WITH SCOTT PELLEY -- CBS EVENING NEWS (6:30 PM, ET), Scott Pelley talks to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar about the recent accusations that Pakistan's intelligence agency played a direct role in the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan last week. As CBS News reported yesterday, America's top military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, stated the U.S. had 'credible evidence' that Pakistan is connected to that attack and a number of others against American troops. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 03: (L-R) Chairman of CBS News Jeff Fager, CBS anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley and President of CBS News David Rhodes speak during the 'CBS Evening News Presentation' panel during the CBS portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 3, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Television news anchor Scott Pelley arrives to 'Late Show With David Letterman' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on May 24, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 03: Anchor and Managing Editor Scott Pelley speaks during the 'CBS Evening News Presentation' panel during the CBS portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 3, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Journalist Scott Pelley on the red carpet during the Texas medal of Arts Awards ceremony at The Long Center on March 1, 2011 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - JUNE 16: Scott Pelley attends 67th ANNUAL PEABODY AWARDS at Waldorf Astoria on June 16, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by SHAUN MADER/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C. FEB 6: NBC News White House Correspondent Claire Shipman, CNN White House Correspondent Wolf Blitzer, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Sam Donaldson, CBS News' Chief White House Correspondent Scott Pelley and Fox News Senior White House Correspondent Jim Angle line up to give their live reports at a joint press conference for U.S. President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on February 6, 1998. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)
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The remarks are the latest to indicate the troubled culture that incubated at CBS Corp. and CBS News over a period of time. Tensions at the unit first came to light after former “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose was ousted in the wake of several women claiming he had made unwanted sexual advances on them, predominantly under the aegis of his long-running PBS program, “Charlie Rose.” Other allegations were made against the work environment at “60 Minutes” as it was run under former executive producer Jeff Fager. Fager has denied claims made against him, and left CBS News last year. CBS Corp. ousted longtime CEO Leslie Moonves last year after a New Yorker article detailed multiple allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted behavior. Moonves has denied the claims.

Pelley, who is slated to be honored by CBS News with a book party celebrating his new memoir, “Truth Worth Telling,” on June 12, alleged he visited several top CBS News executives to warn them of a “hostile work environment” for women and men. Pelley said on CNN that he went to the “president of the news division” — Rhodes served as president between 2011 and early 2019 — and was told he ought to stop “agitating” about the matter. He also alleged he had a substantial conversation with the “chairman of CBS,” who would have been Moonves, about his allegations.

Pelley never mentioned any of the former CBS executives he cited by name.

Rhodes told The Daily Beast Sunday, “That simply never happened,” and added: “And if he had those conversations about this with anybody, it wasn’t with me.”

People familiar with the internal workings of CBS News have long maintained that Pelley and Rhodes had a strained relationship, evidenced by Pelley’s abrupt decamping to “60 Minutes” before a successor at “Evening News” had been named.

Pelley also said he felt CBS News had made strides under Susan Zirinskywho took the reins of the news division in March. He said Zirinsky, a presence at CBS News for decades and the first woman to lead the unit, “has CBS News DNA.” He also praised CBS CEO Joe Ianniello and Bill Owens, a longtime Pelley colleague recently named the new executive producer at “60 Minutes.”

“I’m very excited. I know these people,” Pelley said on “Reliable Sources. ” I know we’re on the right track.”

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Leslie Moonves through his career
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Leslie Moonves through his career
CA.Moonves.1.0731.RG �� CBS President Leslie Moonves at CBS studios, Wednesday, July 30, 1996. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Television executive Leslie Moonves and wife Nancy Wiesenfeld attend the 49th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 14, 1997 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 6: Television executive Leslie Moonves attends the 'Chicago' Opening Night Performance on May 6, 1998 at the Ahmanson Theatre, Music Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - MAY 04: Mayor Rudy Giuliani is flanked by CBS President Leslie Moonves (left) and Donald Trump at news conference at the GM Building, where CBS announced that Bryant Gumbel will be the host of its new morning news program, 'This Morning.' Show, to be launched Nov. 1, will broadcast from Trump's International Plaza Building., (Photo by Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
E367122 18: Leslie Moonves of CBS attends The Variety/Schroders Big Picture Media Conference, April 4, 2000 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Robin Platzer)
President and CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves atThe Front Row conference on the business of media and entertainment in New York City, New York on Tuesday February 27, 2001. photo by Gabe Palacio/Getty Images
NEW YORK CITY - MAY 15: Television executive Leslie Moonves attends the CBS Upront Party on May 15, 2001 at the Tavern on the Green in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Leslie Moonves and Ted Danson at The Museum of Television and Radio's annual Los Angeles gala to honor Ted Danson and Dick Wolf at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Ca. Sunday, Sept. 29, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
Leslie Moonves during Television Critics Association UPN Day - Arrivals at Renissance Hotel in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Leslie Moonves, CEO and Chairman CBS during 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' Fourth Season Premiere Screening at Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
George Lopez and Leslie Moonves, co-president of Viacom (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 2: Television personality Julie Chen (L) and her husband President and CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves arrive at the 30th Annual Kennedy Center Honors December 2, 2007 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nancy Ostertag/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 16: President and CEO of CBS Corp. Leslie Moonves arrives at the launch party for the video game 'Fallout: New Vegas' at the Rain Nightclub inside the Palms Casino Resort October 16, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corp., speaks during the "Outlook for the Entertainment Industry" panel at the 2009 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten (UNITED STATES BUSINESS ENTERTAINMENT HEADSHOT MEDIA)
(L-R) TV personality Julie Chen and President and CEO of CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves attend the Vanity Fair party during the 8th annual Tribeca Film Festival at the State Supreme Courthouse on April 21, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Leslie Moonves attends The Hollywood Radio & Television Society presents 'A Conversation with Leslie Moonves' at The Beverly Hilton hotel on November 17, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation attends Loews Regency Hotel Power Breakfast Event at the Loews Regency Hotel on December 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves attends the 18th Annual Hollywood Film Awards at The Palladium on November 14, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: President and CEO of CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves attends the 2014 God's Love We Deliver Golden Heart Awards at Spring Studios on October 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Leslie Moonves attends the closing night gala screening of 'Patriots Day' at the 2016 AFI Fest at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 17, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14: Leslie Moonves is pictured at the Boston premiere of the movie 'Patriots Day' at the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston on Dec. 14, 2016. He is Chairman of the Board, President & CEO of CBS Corp. (Photo by John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 11: (L-R) Julie Chen and Leslie 'Les' Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corporation, arrive for a morning session of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 11, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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