Susan Zirinsky, a longtime producer at CBS News, will take over the news division in March, after David Rhodes steps down as president once his contract expires. NBC News reported in December 2018 that it was unlikely for Rhodes’s contract to be renewed.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Zirinsky, currently the executive producer at the true-crime show 48 Hours, had originally been considered to take over 60 Minutes, following the ousting of Jeff Fager, who was fired in September over a threatening text message. At the time, Fager was also under investigation for inappropriate workplace behavior, according to the L.A. Times, but Rhodes said Fager’s firing was “not directly related” to those allegations.
However, Joseph Ianniello, who has taken over as acting CEO of the network after Les Moonves resigned following sexual harassment allegations, “wanted to put Zirinsky in a larger role,” according to the L.A. Times.
This marks the first time a woman will lead the CBS news division as president. Zirinsky said of her promotion, “Being a producer is my oxygen and the core of who I am,” adding that “I’ve got to manage money and contracts, but management people will be there for me. My whole approach is as a producer and that’s what will differentiate us.”
CBS News has had to put out on fire after another, and isn’t quite done yet—besides Fager and Moonves, CBS also settled a lawsuit against three women who accused Charlie Rose of sexual harassment in December 2018. The plaintiffs had accused the network for being “fully aware” of Rose’s behavior in the workplace. Eliza Dushku was also written off of the CBS procedural Bull after she raised concerns about inappropriate comments and behavior from another actor, Michael Weatherly; a third-party investigation into the culture at CBS revealed that CBS paid Dushku a $9.5-million settlement and found that to be emblematic of the way the network “protects itself” over victims.
Zirinsky told the L.A. Times: “The #MeToo movement isn’t behind us, it’s alongside us in our thinking.” She added that “a powerful human resources person” will join the news division and that fostering “transparency” was important to her.