In a bizarre series of events, Josh Elliott stepped down from CBS’s digital channel on Friday for a larger role at CBS News — shocking his own bosses.
Elliott, who had served as CBSN’s lead daytime anchor for a year, bid an emotional farewell to viewers, saying that it was to be his “last day.” “It has been by any measure a great stay here at CBSN,” he added.
It was surprising news — not least to CBS News execs, who had no idea he was announcing his plan to leave the online station. “This is a mess of epic proportions,” said a network source. “Nobody at the top at CBS News knew that Josh was going to do that.”
It seems Elliott — who joined the network from NBC in 2016 — had recently met with Laurie Orlando, the network’s head of talent, who told him that she wanted him to take on a bigger role at CBS News. The plan is for him to file reports for “CBS Evening News” and “CBS This Morning,” and help fill in for Charlie Rose, who has just undergone heart surgery. We’re told the surgery was a success and Rose is expected back at work in three weeks.
“Then Josh announced his departure without warning,” said the insider. “Executives at CBS were stunned.” Meanwhile, sources close to Elliott claim that his executive producer dropped the ball for not alerting higher-ups, including Orlando and CBS News president David Rhodes.
“They totally bungled their own announcement,” said the source. “There was no communication.”
There was a flurry of meetings Friday at CBS News to work out how to handle the debacle. Finally, they announced Elliott would be reporting on a national level for CBS News. Insiders say the move is part of a plan for Elliott to take on a bigger role down the line. There are rumors CBS could move Scott Pelley off “CBS Evening News,” which network chiefs have denied.
On Friday, a CBS rep told us, “Josh is going to be taking field assignments and reporting long-form pieces as well. He will appear across CBS News programs, including CBSN.”