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Alan Pergament: CBS News head who benched Jeff Glor is out; Anderson Cooper shines on 'Jeopardy!'

Alan Pergament: CBS News head who benched Jeff Glor is out; Anderson Cooper shines on 'Jeopardy!'

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Zirinsky (copy)

Susan Zirinsky is out as president of CBS News. 

This is what I’m thinking:

The biggest move that outgoing CBS News President Susan Zirinsky made in her two years in the job was benching Western New York native Jeff Glor in favor of Norah O’Donnell as the anchor of “The CBS Evening News.”

The jury is still out on the wisdom of the switch, which led to a costly move of the newscast from New York City to Washington, D.C., and a promotional push for O’Donnell that never was done for Glor in his 17 months in the job.

According to multiple national stories, the early ratings for O’Donnell when she took over in July of 2019 were lower than the newscast achieved under Glor.

And CBS remains No. 3 nationally in the evening news rating. Zirinsky told the New York Times the newscast had cut “its deficit in the key demographic.”

That’s an overly optimistic way of looking at things when you consider all the investment in O'Donnell. You can just as easily make the case that the CBS newscast could have improved under Glor at a time when there were so many major news stories if the network had promoted him more.

After all, 17 months in the job was hardly enough time to see if Glor would become the answer for a job that needs consistency.

In fairness to O’Donnell, “The CBS Evening News” has been in third place under Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Scott Pelley, Katie Couric and Glor.

One of the issues is the weak news lead-ins from CBS affiliates across the country.

It isn’t a problem in Buffalo since WIVB-TV is a strong affiliate. O’Donnell’s newscast is No. 2 to “The NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” on WGRZ-TV. ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” is No.3 here, primarily because of the week lead-in from WKBW-TV’s 6 p.m. newscast.

In the February sweeps, Holt’s newscast averaged a 10.3 rating locally, O’Donnell’s a 7.1 rating and Muir’s a 5.6 rating on Channel 7. Both Holt’s and Muir’s newscast improve on the 6 p.m. ratings from their Buffalo affiliates, while O’Donnell’s viewership here declines significantly from Channel 4’s strong lead-in.

Glor moved over to “CBS This Morning: Saturday” with co-hosts Dana Jacobson and Michelle Miller. It has seen increased national ratings.

By the way, CBS has announced that two people will replace Zirinsky – Hearst executive and former “60 Minutes” producer Neeraj Khemlani and former ABC executive Wendy McMahon. Zirinsky reportedly will get a production deal with CBS’ owner.

Kelly Holland, the former Spectrum News news director in Buffalo, would seem to be a strong candidate to become the news director for the 10 p.m. newscast that WUTV is planning to premiere in July in place of WGRZ-TV’s newscast. Holland’s job at Spectrum News was eliminated, with the station now overseen by a news director, Alexander Quince, based in Albany.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a polarizing figure as the guest host of “Jeopardy!” for two weeks. He grew on me, especially when he allowed his personality to shine. But I will concede that I understand the criticism that he was too low energy. I suspect Joe Buck, who has called many of Rodgers’ games, will be a much more enthusiastic host when he gets his turn. But Buck has always been a polarizing figure, too. Meanwhile, Anderson Cooper looked like a natural in his "Jeopardy!" debut Monday.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is getting a lot of run in the ESPN promo for the NFL draft. In the promo, he has a simple message for Trey Lance, the North Dakota State quarterback who is facing much of the same criticism Allen received three drafts ago: “Ignore them,” says Allen. And he delivers the line perfectly. Perhaps all the practice that Allen has received in the car advertisements with Steve Tasker have helped him.

New York Yankees update: WNYO-TV has begun carrying a 21-game schedule from WPIX in New York of the Yankees, who have gotten off to a terrible start this season.

Trivia Time: Brad Ingelsby, the writer of the new HBO series “Mare of Easttown,” is the son of Tom Ingelsby, a guard on the Villanova University basketball team from 1970 to 1973. Tom Ingelsby was a first-round draft choice of the Atlanta Hawks.

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TV Critic

Alan Pergament has had a variety of roles at The News since 1970, including as a news and sports reporter. He has been the TV columnist since 1982, with more than year off for good behavior. He is a member of the national Television Critics Association.

Related to this story

  • Updated

Jeff Glor answers his cellphone enthusiastically on his drive home to Connecticut from an interview in New Jersey for a story about a book detailing the capture of the late Boston mobster Whitey Bulger. The CBS newsman has been on the road often in the past year, working on long feature pieces such as the intriguing Bulger story –

  • Updated

In his final broadcast as the anchor of the “CBS Evening News” Friday night, Town of Tonawanda native Jeff Glor gave what could be called a silent shout-out to his native Western New York. After the credits of all the people involved in the program were over, the newscast ended with an overhead video view of downtown Buffalo. Whether

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