In a year full of high-profile shake-ups in the news business — Meredith Vieira left the Today Show, while Katie Couric left CBS Evening News — perhaps the biggest shock came Friday, when longtime CBS News anchor Harry Smith announced he’s departing the network for NBC after a 25-year run.
Smith is reportedly slated to work alongside Brian Williams for the new prime-time news show debuting on the Peacock Network during the 2011-12 season.
Smith co-anchored The Early Show up until last November; he’d also worked on CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News.
CBS News President David Rhodes sent the following memo following the jaw-dropping announcement:
Harry Smith has been a fixture here at CBS News for a generation-he joined us in Dallas in 1986-but today he’s decided to move on.
Until late last year Harry anchored the Early Show, where for years he took us through breaking news events from the war in Iraq to the tsunami in Sri Lanka to Columbine and Oklahoma City. Harry conducted news-making interviews with the biggest names in politics and entertainment. During the course of his career here, Harry sat down with six presidents, from Barack Obama back to Richard Nixon.
In my own recent time at CBS News I enjoyed working with Harry as he reported from Egypt, Libya, Malta, and Japan. Frankly we may have enjoyed all those assignments more than he did-he’s seen a lot of airport departure lounges over his career and especially in the last four months.
If you saw Harry’s piece closing the CBS Evening News the first Monday after the Japanese tsunami, you know what great work he is capable of.
Jeff Fager and I want to thank Harry for his extraordinary contribution to CBS over 25 years. If you see Harry around the newsroom in New York today, or otherwise are able to reach out, please join us in wishing him well.