Scott Pelley

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Scott Pelley
Pelley Antarctica edited-1.jpg
Pelley in Antarctica in 2007
Born Scott Cameron Pelley
(1957-07-28) July 28, 1957 (age 58)
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Education Texas Tech University
Occupation Journalist
Years active 1975–present
Notable credit(s) 60 Minutes
60 Minutes II
CBS Evening News
Spouse(s) Jane Boone (m. 1983)
Children 2

Scott Cameron Pelley (born July 28, 1957) is an American television journalist who is anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News and a correspondent for the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes. Prior to his 60 Minutes position, Pelley was a correspondent for the 60 Minutes II program and served as CBS News Chief White House correspondent.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in San Antonio, Texas,[1] Pelley grew up in Lubbock, where he graduated from Coronado High School and obtained his first job in journalism at the age of fifteen as a copyboy for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Staying close to home, he majored in journalism at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock.[2]


Early career[edit]

Pelley began his career as a broadcast journalist at Lubbock's KSEL-TV in 1975. He moved on to KXAS-TV in Fort Worth in 1978, then jumped to WFAA-TV in Dallas in 1982, remaining there for seven years. In 1985, Pelley's reporting on Guatemalan refugees living in remote jungles of Mexico caught the attention of executives at CBS News, but it would be another four years before Pelley would move to the CBS network.

Scott Pelley meets Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2015
Scott Pelley at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City.
Pelley with President Barack Obama in the Diplomatic Receiving Room of the White House, 2011.

CBS News[edit]

Pelley's CBS career started in New York City in 1989. Later, he returned to Dallas to cover national affairs from the CBS bureau. Pelley covered the 1990/91 Gulf war, reporting from Baghdad and traveling with the XVIII Airborne Corps in its assault on Iraq and Kuwait. He was assigned to cover the 1992 presidential campaigns of Ross Perot and Bill Clinton, and also reported on such major events as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Branch Davidian siege near Waco, Texas, and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Pelley served as CBS News' Chief White House Correspondent from 1997 to 1999. During that time, President Clinton was impeached by the United States House of Representatives. In covering the investigation of the president, Pelley broke the news that Monica Lewinsky had become a cooperating witness in the investigation conducted by the Office of Independent Counsel. Pelley was also first to report that President Clinton had been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury. Later, in 2001, Pelley got the first interview with former president Clinton in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Scott Pelley with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office.

60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II[edit]

In 1999, Pelley left the White House to join 60 Minutes II shortly after its inception. In 2000, Pelley landed the first interview with the new president-elect, George W. Bush. The next year, on the morning of September 11, Pelley reported from the scene of the collapsing World Trade Center towers. In 2002, Pelley landed the only interview with President Bush on the anniversary of 9/11. In 2003, Pelley began filing reports for 60 Minutes on Sunday. He moved to the Sunday edition of the broadcast in 2004.

Scott Pelley interviewing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

Pelley's work has also featured reporting on the economic collapse of 2008-2009, on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and reporting on climate change from Antarctica and the Arctic. In 2008, Pelley conducted an interview with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The interview was the first with a Fed Chairman in decades and broke a long-standing Federal Reserve tradition. The broadcast was honored with an Emmy Award.

Pelley is known for deeply reporting stories of national and international importance and for landing news-making interviews with the figures at the center of such events. Pelley has reported from Iraq on the front lines in the battle against ISIS;[3] he landed the first major television interview with FBI Director James Comey in 2014;[4] and he conducted a compelling interview of the nurses who treated the first Ebola patient in the United States.[5] Pelley also conducted the only interview with one of the Navy SEALs who helped kill Osama bin Laden[6] and a news-breaking interview with the chief accuser in Major League Baseball's doping case against Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, in addition to extensive coverage of the Lance Armstrong saga.

In September 2015, Pelley met Pope Francis at the Vatican ahead of the pontiff's historic visit to the United States.[7] Pelley also led CBS News' extensive coverage of the pope's visit to the United States.

War reporting[edit]

Pelley with Darfur refugees, 2006.

Starting with the Persian Gulf crisis of 1990 and the 1991 invasion of Iraq, Pelley has reported extensively from many war zones. In 1991, he accompanied the XVIII Airborne Corps on its invasion of Iraq to force the liberation of Kuwait. In 2001, Pelley and his team joined U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan. In 2003, Pelley and a 60 Minutes team were the first to break the news of the second invasion of Iraq, reporting from an outpost they had created in the DMZ between Iraq and Kuwait. The team opted out of the Pentagon's embed system and covered the invasion of Iraq independently from the initial strike to the fall of Baghdad. Pelley returned to Iraq frequently to report on the insurgency. In 2006 and 2007 he filed reports on the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. In his 2007 report, Pelley enlisted the help of a rebel group to organize an armed reconnaissance into Darfur. The story revealed a village that had been destroyed by government forces in their campaign of genocide. The Darfur report was honored with an Emmy Award. In a review of the story, the Washington Times wrote, "The legacy of (Edward R.) Murrow lives at CBS in the daring, long-range investigations of Scott Pelley." In Afghanistan, Pelley has accompanied numerous units of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in combat operations and has reported independently on the effects of the war on civilians. In 2011, The CBS Evening News was broadcast from Afghanistan for a series of reports on the 10th anniversary of the war.

CBS Evening News[edit]

Pelley became the anchor of the CBS Evening News on June 6, 2011, succeeding Katie Couric.[8][9] CBS's announcement followed media reporting that had pointed to Pelley's being the frontrunner for the position.[10] In his first 9 months in the anchor chair, Pelley gained an additional 821,000 viewers.[11] CBS News has also enjoyed increases in its audience for special news events. After election night, 2012, Variety wrote, "With Scott Pelley front and center; the Eye was up 8% from four years ago." The CBS Evening News has increased its audience every year from 2011 through 2015. On May 29, 2015, the media website, The Wrap, wrote: "These days, CBS brass may finally have a reason to smile. On Wednesday, the network announced “Evening News with Scott Pelley” added more than 1.25 million viewers over the past four years – a whopping 21 percent jump. The show also saw audience growth for the fifth consecutive season, the first time any network evening news broadcast has done that since 1987."

In the 2014-2015 broadcast year, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley posted the Network's largest audience in the time period since 2005-2006 according to Nielsen ratings.[12] Under Pelley's leadership, the CBS Evening News finished the 2014-2015 broadcast year in its closest competitive position with NBC in adults 25-54 since 1994-1995 and in viewers since 2006-2007.


In 2012, the Columbia Journalism Review wrote, "In Pelley, CBS has probably the most well-qualified and proven television journalist ever to ascend to the anchor job."[citation needed] Variety wrote, "For CBS the key was switching to Pelley, the former war reporter and White House correspondent. He took over from Katie Couric and has steadily made up ground ever since." Of 60 Minutes, David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun wrote in 2007, "If there is a single face of the broadcast, it is now that of Pelley who has done several of the biggest interviews and stories." Allen Neuharth, founder of USA Today, noted that "Pelley threw hardballs" in his 2007 interview with President Bush. Bob Woodward, writing in The Washington Post in 2007, said, "Scott Pelley nailed the crucial question" in his interview with former CIA Director, George Tenet. William F. Buckley, Jr., in the National Review, said "Pelley did fine work" in the Tenet piece. Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times wrote, "the strongest on-air personality of the moment belongs to one of the program's blander faces, Scott Pelley."[13] On Pelley's second anniversary as anchor of the CBS Evening News, the Baltimore Sun praised Pelley and his team for delivering an "honest" newscast.[14]

Variety has also lauded Pelley as anchor of the CBS Evening News, saying "he conveys the sense of someone with genuine gravitas and a commitment to his craft, while appearing cool and unflappable in breaking-news situations."[15] In February 2015, the Los Angeles Times praised Pelley's "no frills style" and lauded him for being "all about the journalism."[16] Veteran television writer Stephen Battaglio wrote, "While authenticity has become a hot topic in TV news, Pelley has never needed to invent it or try to enhance it."[16]


In 2014, CBS News was recognized with the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for its coverage of the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. In their citation the judges wrote, "Scott Pelley’s conversation on “60 Minutes” with seven of the families that lost children was remarkable for its courage and candor."

Scott Pelley at the 72nd Annual Peabody Awards

In 2013, Pelley's team of producers, photographers and editors won its third George Foster Peabody Award for an investigation of a fraudulent medical study at Duke University. The report detailed how a star researcher fabricated data in what was thought to be an important breakthrough in cancer treatment.

In 2011, Pelley's team won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for an investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The story uncovered the troubled history of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the months and days before the 2010 blowout that killed 11 crewmen and unleashed the largest accidental oil spill in history.

In 2009, Pelley's team won its second George Foster Peabody Award for a report on the medical relief organization Remote Area Medical. RAM was created to airdrop doctors and supplies into the developing world, but today it does most of its work setting up free medical clinics for the uninsured in the United States.[17]

Also in 2009, Pelley's team won the George Polk Award and an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for an investigation of American recycling companies that secretly ship hazardous waste to China. The report exposed an illegal trade that ruins the health of villagers who dismantle discarded computers under medieval conditions.

The Pelley team's reporting on the deaths of civilians during a Marine engagement in Haditha, Iraq, won the 2007 George Foster Peabody Award.[18] The citation for the award said in part, "This thorough, open-minded investigation of the worst single killing of civilians by American troops since Vietnam put not just the incident into better perspective but the entire Iraq War and the terrible choices it presents both soldier and civilian".[19]

Pelley has been the correspondent on teams that have won 31 national Emmy Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Their reporting on child slavery in India earned 60 Minutes II the Investigative Reporters and Editors award in 1999.

Pelley's team has won six Edward R. Murrow Awards, bestowed by the Radio and Television News Directors Association and the Writers Guild of America Award.

Pelley is the former Co-Chair of the Board of Overseers for the International Rescue Committee, the refugee relief agency headquartered in New York City.

Pelley left Texas Tech without a degree, but he has maintained an ongoing relationship with the university. On March 22, 2013, he was named an Outstanding Alumnus of Texas Tech University, the highest honor bestowed by Texas Tech Alumni Association. Pelley was inducted into the Texas Tech University College of Media and Communication Hall of Fame in 2006. He currently serves on the professional advisory board of the university's College of Media and Communication.

In 2010, Pelley was named to's "Men on Top" list alongside Conan O'Brien, Tom Hardy, and Mark Ronson.[20] "He restores a little of our faith in TV news," writes, "while performing hugely important, world-bettering reports along the way."[20]


  1. ^ a b "Scott Pelley Bio". (CBS Broadcasting). February 26, 2002. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2009. 
  2. ^ "College of Media & Communication :: Texas Tech University" (PDF). Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Islamic State: On the ground in Iraq". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  4. ^ "FBI Director James Comey on threat of ISIS, cybercrime". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  5. ^ "Ebola: Inside the first U.S. diagnosis". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  6. ^ "SEAL's first-hand account of bin Laden killing". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  7. ^ "Pope Francis". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  8. ^ "Scott Pelley named anchor of "CBS Evening News"". CBS News. May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Scott Pelley confirmed as CBS Evening News presenter". The Spy Report (Media Spy). May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  10. ^ Stelter, Brian (April 11, 2011). "Front-Runner for CBS Anchor Is ‘60 Minutes’ Reporter". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Evening News Ratings: Week of August 1". TV Newser. August 9, 2011. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ "CBS EVENING NEWS Posts Network's Largest Audience in Time Period". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  13. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (May 18, 2007). "Going Like 60 (Tick Tick Tick)". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ "Scott Pelley says Americans want an 'honest' newscast". tribunedigital-baltimoresun. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  15. ^ Lowry, Brian. "WATCH: Scott Pelley Delivers Classy Tribute to CBS' Bob Simon". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  16. ^ a b "'CBS Evening News' anchor Scott Pelley is all about the journalism". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  17. ^ "Grady College | University of Georgia" (PDF). Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  18. ^ Stelter, Brian (April 3, 2008). "Arts, Briefly; Peabody Award Winners". New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2009. 
  19. ^ "CBS News 60 Minutes: The Killings in Haditha (CBS)". The Peabody Awards. Retrieved April 9, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b "Salon's "Men on Top 2010"’". Salon. Archived from the original on November 17, 2010. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Katie Couric
CBS Evening News anchor
June 6, 2011–present
Succeeded by