9:32 AM PST 2/13/2017 by Marisa Guthrie
Josh Elliott is out at CBS News.
The former Good Morning America anchor's last day at the network was Friday, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
"CBS News and Josh Elliott are parting ways. Josh will no longer be reporting for CBS News," CBS said in a statement. "We are grateful for his contributions over the last year, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors."
Elliott joined CBS News' digital network CBSN last spring, where he was the lead daytime anchor. But on Friday he made an announcement on the service that it was his "last day." He did not say where he was going, but sources at CBS News say that Elliott was going to be doing more field pieces for CBS News, where he could often be found filling in for Scott Pelley on the CBS Evening News and on CBS This Morning. The plan was to season him up for what could have been a bigger role at CBS News.
But CBS News executives were blindsided by Elliott's announcement. “It has been by any measure a great stay here at CBSN," Elliott said Friday on CBSN. One source said that Elliott's producer initiated the statement and that it was not properly vetted with CBS News management. The statement set off a flurry of internal emails. And Elliott was summoned to a Monday morning meeting with CBS News president David Rhodes, where he was fired. Rhodes informed the rest of the news division that Elliott was out, effective immediately, during an editorial meeting on Monday.
This is not Elliott's first early exit from a job. He joined CBS News after an abbreviated stint at NBC Sports, where he went after contract extension talks with ABC News broke down in 2014. At the time, he said he wanted to return to sports, his first love. (Elliott joined GMA from ESPN.) But sources at NBC said he was also being positioned to one day join the news division, potentially becoming Matt Lauer's heir apparent at Today, or to take on a bigger role at NBC Sports, possibly inheriting the perch that Bob Costas just handed to Mike Tirico last week.
When Elliott joined CBS News last year, many media observers predicted a similar scenario: that he would one day be upgraded to the network from CBSN. There was early speculation that Elliott could join CBS This Morning. But with that show putting up strong numbers, keeping the team of Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell together is a priority for CBS News executives. King recently renewed her deal; Rose, who is recovering from heart surgery performed on Thursday, is expected to enter contract extension talks in the coming months; and O'Donnell's deal also comes up later this year.
More recently, the speculation has centered on CBS Evening News. In that scenario, Pelley would go back to 60 Minutes full-time; the show has been short-staffed since the untimely death of Bob Simon in 2015 and Morley Safer last year. And there is no doubt that the recent decision to send Elliott into the field was part of a plan to give him more boots-on-the-ground experience.
Of course, Elliott has been known to slide into diva behavior; by many accounts, his final months at GMA were rather rancorous. But numerous sources at CBS News said he was well-liked there. He still had more than a year left on his deal.