As CBS works to distance itself from sexual misconduct scandals involving former CEO Leslie Moonves, 60 Minutes producer Jeff Fager, and legendary newsman Charlie Rose, the network has turned to another news legend in a bid to change the company’s allegedly toxic culture.
Susan Zirinsky, a CBS veteran of more than four decades, who legendarily jumped off of a moving train to deliver a story during Ronald Reagan’s first term, was named president of CBS News on Sunday, becoming the first woman to ever hold the position. Speaking on CBS This Morning on Monday, Gayle King said that the network’s news division had been “taking on water,” but that she felt “really excited” at the prospect Zirinsky could help “right the ship.”
“She is a smart cookie and she is a badass in every sense of the word,” said King.
Zirinsky, 66, whose popularity within the company is such that many employees refer to her fondly as “Z,” said that she had been asked to lead the news division on prior occasions but refused because she preferred to produce. But in wake of the sexual misconduct scandals engulfing CBS and attacks on journalistic integrity from U.S. President Donald Trump, Zirinsky said she decided it was time for her “to step up.”
According to reports, the new president was greeted with a thundering ovation from CBS News staff when she was officially introduced on Monday. As a producer famous for her open-door policy — “I don’t charge per hour,” she joked, when asked about how she handles impromptu meetings with employees — Zirinsky said she intended on remaining as accessible as before.
“I’ve been at CBS since I was 20 years old,” she said in an interview on Monday. “I really care about bringing this organization together both functionally and spiritually.”
“There was some tough stuff that happened,” she continued. “The whole world is going through tough stuff. MeToo isn’t behind us. It’s part of us. We are now a different people because of it.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.