With ratings on Scott Pelley’s broadcast already up over Katie Couric, Jeff Fager and David Rhodes, in the new Hollywood Reporter magazine, talk about their aggressive plans to "restore" their division.
Jeff Fager and David Rhodes took the reins of CBS News at a tumultuous time: The entire Early Show on-air team had been replaced, and Katie Couric was mulling the end of her high-profile — if not highly rated — five years on the CBS Evening News.
In February, Fager, 56, became the first chairman of the news division, and Rhodes, 37, who spent many years at Fox News and a shorter stint at Bloomberg, was brought in as president, in part so Fager could keep his day job as executive producer of 60 Minutes. "I knew right away we had common sensibilities," says Fager, a married father of three.
They have given themselves a steep mandate: Get the network’s daily broadcasts out of the ratings basement. (60 Minutes lately has led the news curve, breaking news that Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson apparently embellished parts of his memoir; it also aired explosive accusations from former teammates that Lance Armstrong doped.) They’ve hired MSNBC’s Morning Joe executive producer Chris Licht as vp programming. Soon, Early will move from its drab digs on 5th Avenue near the Plaza Hotel to the broadcast center on West 57th Street.