CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell may be ousted from the network this spring due to her ‘toxic behavior’ as leadership looks to cut costs and increase profits.
Network co-president Neeraj Khemlani is looking to replace O’Donnell, 48, who allegedly makes between $6million and $8million annually, once her contract expires this spring, a CBS insider told the New York Post.
‘The next big decision from him is revamping the Evening News,’ one source said.
‘It’s not a money maker,’ echoed another who added O’Donnell’s ‘toxic behavior’ was taking a toll on the show.
Others allege that she and Khemlani have been bumping heads for the past year after he ‘quietly’ began reports surfaced that he was searching for her replacement.
Khemlani, last year, denied the allegations, saying: ‘Norah’s presence in Washington has elevated the CBS Evening News’ coverage on all fronts. Her reporting on the military and domestic abuse has won awards and changed policies in Washington. And in addition to making headlines, the program is gaining audience share’
He has not commented on the latest replacement accusations and CBS did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Meantime, insiders have pointed to CBS Mornings anchor Tony Dokoupil as O’Donnell’s possible successor.
CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell may be ousted from the network this spring due to her ‘toxic behavior’ as leadership looks to cut costs and increase profits
Insiders say network co-president Neeraj Khemlani (left) is looking to replace O’Donnell. Several have pointed to CBS Mornings anchor Tony Dokoupil (right) as her possible successor
Sources told the Post speculation about O’Donnell’s ousting increased after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, noting she is the only evening news anchor that didn’t travel to Eastern Europe to cover the invasion.
The insiders claim that O’Donnell remaining in D.C. has ‘taken a toll on ratings’. She is traveling to Poland this weekend to cover the conflict but many allege ‘it’s too late.’
‘David Muir, Lester Holt and Anderson Cooper are all in Ukraine. Where’s Norah? We are in the middle of a war and she’s reporting from Washington, D.C.,’ said a source.
‘Either she didn’t want to go or leadership didn’t want her to go. It’s bad either way.’
CBS’ total viewers sank to 5.1 million during the week of February 28, according to Nielsen ratings. ABC and NBC saw 8.8 million and 7.4 million viewers, respectively.
Prior to the war, O’Donnell was reaching between 5.3 million and 5.6 million viewers nightly.
‘I don’t know if Neeraj can make the final decision but he’s going to bring [ratings] data to George Cheeks and Bob Bakish,’ the source said, referencing the network’s CEOs. ‘Norah’s contract is up in May. There’s time.’
Sources claim speculation about O’Donnell’s ousting surged amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, noting she is the only evening news anchor that didn’t travel to Eastern Europe to cover the invasion
ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir traveled overseas to cover the conflict. He is pictured on March 5 speaking with families who escaped Ukraine. ABC is leading the evening news ratings with 8.8 million viewers nightly for the week of February 28
NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and CNN’s Anderson Cooper also both traveled to Ukraine in wake on the conflict
Others claim that potential staffing change stems from O’Donnell’s alleged ‘first-class attitude,’ which allegedly includes a ‘full dress rehearsal’ of the newscast half an hour before it airs live.
‘The rehearsals are an excuse to blow up packages 15 minutes before the show,’ one person told the Post. ‘She changes the words to segments. Everyone has a stroke.’
‘She’s a news actress,’ another said, claiming dress rehearsals ahead of newscasts are ‘very unusual’.
A third insider claimed producers have to coach her and ‘make her look more human’ so that she isn’t ‘robotic’ when she reads.
The insiders also said O’Donnell often chews out her stylists during the rehearsals.
‘There was an incident last year in the studio where she ranted about how her bronzer was wrong,’ one source told the newspaper, claiming she has been known to bring her glam team to tears.
‘We are in the middle of a pandemic and people are dying,’ the source added.
Others allege that she and Khemlani have been bumping heads for the past year after he ‘quietly’ began reports surfaced that he was searching for her replacement. He denied the allegations at the time. He has not yet commented on the recent reports of O’Donnell’s potential ousting but did say Friday: ‘We support Norah and the Evening News team and the quality journalism they deliver each and every night’ (Left to right: Shawna Thomas, Tony Dokoupil. Gayle King, Neeraj Khemlani and Nate Burleson as seen in September 2021)
Others criticized the anchor over her alleged clothing specifications, citing her annual wardrobe allowance, which they claim is $65,000.
The sources also complained that O’Donnell expects Gucci slides to be waiting in front of her dressing room door so that she can slip them on as soon as she is off set each night.
O’Donnell’s publicist Cindi Berger denied the accusations, telling the Post: ‘It’s a clothing allowance, every news anchor has one. That figure is incorrect.’
‘I am vehemently refuting these outrageous and sexist claims!’
‘It’s offensive that female anchors and reporters get this type of sexist treatment,’ Khemlani reportedly echoed in an email statement issued late Friday.
‘We support Norah and the Evening News team and the quality journalism they deliver each and every night.’
Some CBS staffers reportedly believe that Khemlani does intend to keep O’Donnell on staff, alleging he is only ‘shopping for a new anchor’ as a tactic to get her to accept a ‘massive pay cut’.