Scott Pelley didn’t mark his debut as the new anchor of “The CBS Evening News” in any special way Monday evening. Instead, he chose to anchor the broadcast as if his first day was nothing special.
He made no self-referential remarks, made no speeches about what he’ll do or how the newscast might change in the Pelley era or how honored he is to be installed as only the fifth CBS evening-news anchor since 1948.
The approach was refreshing actually. It was also unexpected since we’re not accustomed to TV personalities refraining from talking about themselves, especially on days that are very special to them personally. Certainly, Monday must have been such a day in the life of Scott Pelley, a 53-year-old CBS newsman who had reached the pinnacle of his field, which happens to be one of the most competitive in the world.
And yet, Pelley didn’t mention it. Instead, he anchored the news – introducing stories (10 of them) and, on occasion, exchanging a few remarks with CBS correspondents. Perhaps the approach was deliberate. Maybe it was meant to convey the idea — without Pelley having to spell it out — that he didn’t intend to rock the boat as the broadcast’s new anchor.
Or maybe he’s saving the boat-rocking for some future newscasts. After all, a low-key approach like the one Pelley took on his first night is probably not going to help lift “The CBS Evening News” out of third place in the news ratings.
If Pelley was thinking about the ratings, or what he’ll do on future broadcasts, he didn’t let on Monday night. Instead, he read his copy flawlessly and, when it was time to end the show, he said simply, “For all of us at CBS News all around the world, good night.”
One story that didn’t make the CBS news list Monday night: The network’s former anchor, Katie Couric, announcing her new alliance with ABC earlier in the day.