Paramount Layoffs Hit 20 CBS News Staffers

Rexa Vella

Paramount Layoffs Hit 20 CBS News Staffers

Approximately 20 CBS News staffers were given termination notices Tuesday as a result of broader layoffs taking place across Paramount Global.

The cuts extended across CBS News operations in Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles, according to two people familiar with the matter, and included two of the news operation’s most prominent correspondents, Jeff Pegues and Catherine Herridge, these people said.

A CBS News spokesperson did not respond immediately to a query seeking comment. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the number of layoffs, while The New York Post reported on some of the staffers who had been affected.

Pegues was named CBS News’ chief national affairs and justice correspondent in March of 2021, while Herridge has worked as an investigative correspondent at CBS News in Washington since joining the operation in 2019 after a long stint at Fox News Channel.

Herridge has been embroiled in a court case for work she did at Fox News that unveiled that a Chinese-American scientist was being scrutinized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe. The scientist has sued the FBI for leaking her name and subpoenaed Herridge and Fox News in an effort to unmask her sources. Fox News and Herridge have fought against it, citing the First Amendment.

Other CBS News staffers who have been laid off include Christina Ruffini, a CBS News correspondent who has been with the unit since she was an intern, and Pamela Falk, a CBS News correspondent who covers the United Nations.

Staffers at CBS News were not surprised by the layoffs. They were telegraphed previously by Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish. Paramount has struggled in the era of streaming video against larger competitors like Netflix and Amazon, companies that don’t have the burden of having to maintain linear TV assets like CBS, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Paramount has grappled with trimming streaming investment costs even as it has seen a shortfall in advertising revenue in recent quarters.

Even so, some employees questioned Paramount’s decision to unveil layoffs Tuesday, one day after congratulating staffers for the company’s Sunday-night broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII, which set new viewership records on both CBS and for accumulated viewing across multiple platforms. Approximately 120 million people viewed the Big Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers on CBS, and executives have indicated the company expects a haul of advertising revenue that is greater than the $600 million seen by Fox for its 2023 broadcast of the event.

The removal of Pegues and Herridge leaves a hole in CBS News’ coverage of the U.S. Department of Justice and national security, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. Ruffini spent a chunk of her time covering the U.S. Department of State.

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