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Did Gayle King Really Demand Norah O'Donnell Be Moved Off CBS This Morning?

CBS This Morning Norah O’Donnell Gayle King John Dickerson

CBS This Morning is firing back after rumors of in-fighting behind-the-scenes. There's a new anchor lineup coming with only Gayle King expected to stick around. John Dickerson is reportedly headed to 60 Minutes with Noah O'Donnell heading for CBS Evening News.

According to the new rumors, Gayle King demanded Norah O'Donnell be moved off the morning show as part of her contract negotiations. A "CBS insider" called O'Donnell "toxic" and difficult to work with.

However, CBS News president Susan Zirinsky fought back, calling The New York Post's report "offensive and 100 percent false." Someone close to Norah O'Donnell told the Post that O'Donnell and Gayle King are "close friends" and there's no bad blood at all.

Norah O’Donnell addressed the reports on CBS This Morning on Friday, May 3:

We are reading lots of things with great interest. I just want you to know we will address them on Monday, when Gayle is back here — and John as well.

Gayle King was on assignment in London; she will be hosting the special Meghan and Harry Plus One on May 17. John Dickerson was also said to be on assignment, leaving Norah O'Donnell to co-host May 3 with Anthony Mason and Vladimir Duthiers.

If they are addressing reports on Monday, that should be when CBS formally announces the new CBS This Morning co-host lineup. According to Deadline, Gayle King will be co-hosting next season with Anthony Mason and CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil.

Whatever that CBS "insider" thinks of Norah O'Donnell, she still has a major role ahead of her at CBS. She has reportedly been offered a "monster anchor" job including chief political anchor, as well as Jeff Glor's former job as CBS Evening News anchor, and she'll also reportedly still appear on 60 Minutes.

Norah O'Donnell is reportedly holding out for "Gayle King money" before signing her new contract, since King's own $5.5 million salary is said to have doubled.

There were previous reports in late 2018 saying Gayle King was reportedly unhappy with her situation on CBS This Morning and considering leaving. If those reports were valid at the time, they have clearly changed now.

Gayle King -- whose recent interview with R. Kelly got national attention -- is hoped to help revive CBS This Morning. CBS has never gotten the same morning show attention as NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America. However, CBS saw some promising movement in the ratings when it focused on hard news, in contrast to its counterparts. But that ratings uptick fell away after the 2017 ouster of Charlie Rose, who was accused by several women of sexual harassment.

There have already been plenty of changes at CBS, from CEO Les Moonves' exit in the wake of his own sexual misconduct scandal, not to mention Bianna Golodryga leaving the network after just a six-month stint as CBS This Morning co-host.

CBS isn't the only network facing a.m. changes, though, since NBC recently replaced Megyn Kelly and saw Kathie Lee Gifford retire (not to mention the scandal with Matt Lauer). And ABC's Michael Strahan is still talking about his strained relationship with former Live with Kelly and Michael co-host Kelly Ripa.

The behind-the-scenes drama of morning shows is just fascinating. No wonder Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are teaming up for a new series set in the world of morning TV!

Gina Carbone
Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.