Josh Elliott is out at CBS News on Monday after less than a year in the anchor chair at its digital news channel, sources say.
The circumstances of the dismissal are related to his handling of his expected move to a higher profile role at CBS News, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
CBS News issued a statement only confirming Elliott’s departure. “CBS News and Josh Elliott are parting ways. Josh will no longer be reporting for CBS News. We are grateful for his contributions over the last year, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
But the severance is in response to an apparent rogue move on Friday in which Elliott announced to viewers on CBSN, the digital news service where he served as anchor since March 2016, that it was his last day in the chair. He gave an emotional sign-off, thanking the viewers and his staff. He also ran a video montage of interviews he had done on the channel that typically come with an anchor farewell.
Elliott’s bosses at CBS News had no idea Elliott was announcing that he was stepping away from CBSN until they saw him live on the stream.
There were plans to give Elliott more duties outside of CBSN, with reporting for “CBS Evening News” and filling in at the anchor desk on “CBS This Morning.” But executives were not intending to make any formal announcement about his role.
CBS News Chairman David Rhodes was upset at being blind-sided by Elliott’s actions on Friday and decided over the weekend to dismiss him, the sources said.
CBS had been getting Elliott’s services on the cheap. He was still being paid by NBC, which had hired him in 2014 to anchor sports events and eventually work on its morning show “Today.” The network released him while continuing to pay his multi-year contract in which he reportedly earned between $3 million and $4 million annually.
Elliott, 45, is a native of Los Angeles. His star rose when he was part of the on-air team that lifted ABC’s “Good Morning America” to the top of the morning show ratings for the first time in 16 years. He was a news anchor on the program from 2011 to 2014. He left ABC after being unable to come to terms on a new contract.
Before joining “Good Morning America,” Elliott was a daytime anchor on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” from 2008 to 2011.
He was not immediately available for comment.