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Scott Cameron Pelley
July 28, 1957
|Education||Coronado High School (Lubbock, Texas)|
|Alma mater||Texas Tech University|
|60 Minutes |
CBS Evening News
Jane Boone Pelley
Scott Cameron Pelley (born July 28, 1957) is an American journalist and author who has been a correspondent and anchor for CBS News for more than 31 years. Pelley is the author of the 2019 book, Truth Worth Telling, and a correspondent for the CBS News magazine 60 Minutes. Pelley served as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News from 2011 to 2017, a period in which the broadcast added more than a million and a half viewers, achieving its highest ratings in more than a decade. Pelley served as CBS News’s chief White House correspondent from 1997 to 1999.
Early life and education
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Pelley grew up in Lubbock, where he graduated from Coronado High School and obtained his first job in journalism at the age of 15 as a copyboy for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Staying close to home, he majored in journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Pelley began his career as a broadcast journalist at Lubbock's KSEL-TV in 1975 (later KMCC, now KAMC). He moved on to KXAS-TV in Fort Worth in 1978, and 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 (though WFAA was an ABC affiliate), and four years later, Pelley moved to the CBS network.
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 Waco Siege, and the Oklahoma City bombing.
Pelley served as CBS News's 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.
60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II
In 1999, Pelley left the White House to join 60 Minutes II shortly after its inception. In 2000, Pelley landed the first interview with 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.
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 has reported from Iraq on the front lines in the battle against ISIS; he landed the first major television interview with FBI Director James Comey in 2014; and he conducted an interview of the nurses who treated the first Ebola patient in the United States. Pelley also conducted the only interview with one of the Navy SEALs who helped to kill Osama bin Laden 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 doping case.
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
Pelley became the anchor of the CBS Evening News on June 6, 2011, succeeding Katie Couric. In Pelley's first nine months in the anchor chair, the program gained an additional daily 821,000 viewers. 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 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."
At the end of the 2015–2016 television season, CBS News announced, "The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, America's fastest growing network evening news broadcast, finished the 2015-16 television season with CBS's highest ratings in the time period in 10 years (since the 2005–06 season), according to Nielsen most current ratings. The CBS Evening News has grown its audience for six consecutive seasons, a first-time achievement for any network evening news broadcast since the advent of people meters (since at least 1987). Under Pelley, who assumed the anchor chair in June 2011, the CBS Evening News has added +1.4 million viewers and an audience increase of 23%, which is double NBC and ABC's growth combined over the same period (since the 2010–11 season)."
Pelley's coverage of the Trump administration has been recognized by journalists and media evaluators. According to Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, Pelley's coverage of the Trump administration is an example of "pointed truth telling" that has "set himself apart" from his competitors. Media critic Andrew Tyndall said, "To me, it's not commentary. It's actual reporting."
On May 30, 2017, it was reported that Pelley was fired from the CBS Evening News, despite the broadcast setting a record with six consecutive seasons of growth. On June 6, 2016, CBS had announced, The “CBS EVENING NEWS WITH SCOTT PELLEY finished the (2016) season by delivering the largest audience in the time period for CBS in 10 years. The CBS broadcast also added the most viewers among the network evening news broadcasts (7.35m, up +2% from 7.23m a year ago). The broadcast posted its sixth consecutive season of growth, a first for a network evening newscast since the 1987 advent of people meters. Since Scott Pelley became anchor in June 2011, the “CBS EVENING NEWS” has added +1.4 million viewers, double the growth of ABC and NBC combined.”
On September 20, 2016, CBS added, “The “CBS EVENING NEWS WITH SCOTT PELLEY” finished with CBS’s highest ratings in the time period in 10 years (since the 2005-06 broadcast year). This year marks the sixth consecutive broadcast year of viewer gains for the CBS EVENING NEWS, the first time any network evening news broadcast posted six consecutive broadcast years of viewer gains in the 28 years since the advent of Nielsen people meters in 1987. Additionally, the “CBS EVENING NEWS WITH SCOTT PELLEY” closed the viewership gap with NBC by 113,000 viewers compared to last year—the closest CBS has been to NBC in viewers for a broadcast year in 15 years (since 2000-2001).”
Pelley later told CNN that he had been removed from the anchor chair for complaining to CBS News management about a hostile work environment for the news division's employees. The comments underscore the fallout the network continues to face from the Me Too movement, as CBS Corporation chairman Les Moonves, 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager and CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose have all been dismissed for inappropriate conduct on the job. Despite some articles blaming poor ratings when Pelley was relieved of his position, there are several other articles indicating strong ratings and audience growth during Pelley's tenure as CBS Evening News anchor. These tend to give credence to Pelley's assertion that he was let go due to his complaints about a "hostile work environment."
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In 2019, Pelley's book, Truth Worth Telling, placed him among Amazon's Top Ten Authors in the category of memoirs and history.
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." 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." 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.
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." In February 2015, the Los Angeles Times praised Pelley's "no frills style" and lauded him for being "all about the journalism." 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."
In 2020, Pelley and his team were awarded the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for reporting on the forced separation of immigrant children from their families at the U.S. border. This was Pelley's fourth duPont-Columbia Award, considered the highest award in electronic journalism.
In 2016, Pelley and his team were awarded the Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award for reporting on a nerve gas attack that occurred in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria, in 2013. More than 1,400 civilians were killed. The judges cited, "previously unheard testimony and unseen images which bore shocking witness to the 2013 Syrian Sarin gas attacks."
In 2014, CBS News was recognized with the Alfred I. du Pont-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."
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. du Pont-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.
Also in 2009, Pelley's team won the George Polk Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for Television Enterprise business journalism, 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. 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".
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 Salon.com's "Men on Top" list alongside Conan O'Brien, Tom Hardy, and Mark Ronson. "He restores a little of our faith in TV news," writes Salon.com, "while performing hugely important, world-bettering reports along the way."
In 2016, Pelley was honored with the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism.
In 1983, Pelley married Jane Boone Pelley, a former television reporter and advertising executive. They have a son and a daughter.
- Kohn, David (February 26, 2002). "Scott Pelley Bio". CBS News. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2009.
- Carter, Logan G. (Summer 2006). "Hall of Fame" (PDF). The Mass Communicator. College of Media & Communication, Texas Tech University. 31 (2): 17. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 12, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Pelley, Scott (September 21, 2014). "The Islamic State: On the ground in Iraq". CBS News. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- Pelley, Scott (October 5, 2014). "FBI Director James Comey on threat of ISIS, cybercrime". CBS News. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- Pelley, Scott (October 26, 2014). "Ebola: Inside the first U.S. diagnosis". CBS News. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- Pelley, Scott (September 24, 2012). "SEAL's first-hand account of bin Laden killing". CBS News. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- Pelley, Scott (September 20, 2015). "Pope Francis". CBS News. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- "Scott Pelley named anchor of 'CBS Evening News'". CBS News. May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011.
- "Scott Pelley confirmed as CBS Evening News presenter". The Spy Report. Media Spy. May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011.
- Stelter, Brian (April 11, 2011). "Front-Runner for CBS Anchor Is '60 Minutes' Reporter". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
- "Evening News Ratings: Week of August 1". TV Newser. August 9, 2011. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
- Sullivan, Margaret (March 26, 2017). "Scott Pelley is pulling no punches on the nightly news - and people are taking notice". The Washington Post.
- Bauder, David (March 7, 2017). "CBS' Scott Pelley noted for blunt evaluations of Trump". The Boston Globe.
- "Scott Pelley claims he was dumped from ‘CBS Evening News’ for complaining about ‘hostile work environment’" from New York Daily News (May 26, 2019)
- "CBS’s Scott Pelley Blasts Former Boss David Rhodes for ‘Hostile Work Environment’" from The Daily Beast (May 26, 2019)
- [https://web.archive.org/web/20120729011052/http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/tag/cbs-evening-news-with-scott-pelley-ratings/ "ALL ARTICLES FILED IN CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley Ratings"] from TV By The Numbers
- Columbia Journalism Review, 2011
- Stanley, Alessandra (May 18, 2007). "Going Like 60 (Tick Tick Tick)". The New York Times.
- "Scott Pelley says Americans want an 'honest' newscast". Baltimore Sun. June 6, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Lowry, Brian (February 12, 2015). "Scott Pelley Delivers Classy Tribute to CBS' Bob Simon". Variety. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- Battaglio, Stephen (February 26, 2015). "'CBS Evening News' anchor Scott Pelley is all about the journalism". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- "UCLA Anderson Announces 2012 Gerald Loeb Award Winners". UCLA Anderson School of Management. June 26, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
- "George Foster Peabody Award Winners" (PDF). University of Georgia. p. 88. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 26, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
- "Loeb Winners". UCLA Anderson School of Management. June 29, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
- Stelter, Brian (April 3, 2008). "Arts, Briefly; Peabody Award Winners". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
- "CBS News 60 Minutes: The Killings in Haditha (CBS)". The Peabody Awards. Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
- "Salon's "Men on Top 2010"'". Salon. Archived from the original on November 17, 2010. Retrieved May 4, 2011.
- "Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism". Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- Hodenfield, Chris (January 31, 2010). "At Home With Scott Pelley". New Canaan-Darien+Rowayton. Moffly Publications. Archived from the original on January 29, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
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