Insiders: Couric offered ’60 Minutes’ slot

Katie Couric/©CBS, Inc.

Over the weekend, speculation began circulating that 60 MINUTES correspondent Scott Pelley was a leading contender to take over the CBS EVENING NEWS when Katie Couric’s contract is up.  Insiders at the network told the New York Post that Couric has been offered a package that would move her to the venerable news magazine.

The offer could be attractive enough to persuade Couric to do a possible syndicated daytime talk show through CBS, which is the largest syndicator.

Pelley, 53, has been with CBS since 1989, and has been a 60 MINUTES correspondent since 2004.  Before that, he contributed to 60 MINUTES II, and previously served as the network’s chief White House correspondent.

Couric, 54, who left NBC’s Today show to take over the CBS EVENING NEWS in 2006, is wrapping up a five-year contract which expires this June.  Early speculation suggested that CBS would ask Couric to remain in that position through the 2012 elections, but the newest rumors say Couric and Pelley could trade places sooner than that.

Curiously unmentioned in the rumor mill is CBS Senior Correspondent Harry Smith, who left THE EARLY SHOW this past January to become the primary substitute anchor for Couric, and also for Bob Schieffer on FACE THE NATION and Charles Osgood on SUNDAY MORNING.  Couric is said to be on vacation this week, so Smith is the likely fill-in.

Though Couric never brought CBS the evening news ratings success executives were hoping for, here in the Lowcountry, the CBS EVENING NEWS scored better in February in household viewers than the nationally top-rated NBC Nightly News.

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