Gayle King’s future at CBS News is mired in uncertainty as the host comes up on the end of her $5.5million contract.
King, who founded CBS This Morning in 2012 with ousted co-host Charlie Rose, is widely regarded as the network’s most valuable on-air asset, one it can’t afford to lose.
‘As far as I know I still have a contract there,’ King jokingly told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, one day before incoming president Susan Zirinsky took the reins of the news division.
Insiders say keeping King is Zirinsky’s number one priority – but that task may not be so easy following months of declining ratings and sudden leadership changes.
‘Everything hinges on Gayle,’ one CBS News staffer told THR. ‘She wants to be part of something competitive. I think they have some heavy lifting to do still with Gayle.’
When asked about whether she sees herself at CBS News this time next year, King said: ‘That’s a good question. All I can say is I really love my job. And I think it’s kind of foolish to predict the future.’
THR also asked about whispers that ABC News could try to poach King, to which the 64-year-old replied: ‘You know that there are all sorts of rumors about everything. I’ll tell you this: I’m not going to be one of these people who leaks stuff out. I’m just not going to do that. I will say that’s very flattering to hear.’
An ABC News source told the outlet: ‘If someone as talented as Gayle became available who wouldn’t have that conversation?’
A key problem CBS could face in negotiating King’s new contract is the fact that her peers at other networks are raking in considerably larger paychecks.
Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts is paid close to $18million annually, and her co-host George Stephanopoulos recently renewed his contract for between $15million and $18 million, according to reports. Megyn Kelly left Fox News for a $70million three-year contract with NBC News – though that ultimately didn’t turn out as planned.
CBS News’ notorious unwillingness to fork over comparable salaries has been a longstanding issue that was dragged into the spotlight last fall by the departure of disgraced CEO Leslie Moonves – who reportedly brought in nearly $70million in 2017.
Sources close to King have said the host is looking for one key thing if she stays: assurance that her program will be set up to succeed.
CBS This Morning brings in close to $100million annually, insiders told THR, making it one of the network’s most valuable programs.
The broadcast averaged 3.35 million viewers in February, ranking third for viewership behind Good Morning America and Today – the former leading in total viewers and latter leading in the critical 25-54 demographic.
However, the show has been damaged by instability behind the desk.
After Rose was removed in November 2017, Face the Nation host John Dickerson joined anchors King and Norah O’Donnell. Months later, Bianna Golodryga was added as a fourth anchor, a move that reportedly blindsided King.
There have been recent reports that O’Donnell could replace Jeff Glor as the anchor of CBS Evening News – though Zirinsky has said those are just rumors.
CBS This Morning has also been without an executive producer for several months following the sudden departure of Ryan Kadro in December.
King herself expressed confidence in Zirinsky, describing how cheers erupted throughout the CBS offices when she was named the new president.
‘Everyone was thrilled that she was going to be the new person in charge. She’s widely respected and very much admired,’ King told THR.
SOURCE: Daily Mail – Megan Sheets