*Gayle King was reportedly one of the biggest advocates for CBS tapping former football player and “Extra” correspondent Nate Burleson to replace longtime journalist Anthony Mason on “CBS This Morning.”
“Gayle is a huge fan of Nate, and she has more clout than people realize,” one source said, per Page Six.
Another insider told the outlet King was a “proponent of Nate and was instrumental behind the scenes to make [the deal] happen.”
We reported earlier that Burleson was “being groomed” by the network, and his hire has prompted many to accuse “CBS This Morning” of copying rival “Good Morning America.”
”They’re basically copying ‘GMA.’ They’re moving to Times Square, hiring a [Michael] Strahan. What’s next? Cooking segments? They’re clearly in trouble,” one industry source said.
Another insider said “GMA” staffers are “all shook over why CBS is copying them. It’s all the talk this morning at ABC.”
A NEW FACE AT CBS THIS MORNING: Emmy Award-winning @CBSSports analyst and former NFL star Nate Burleson will join @GayleKing and @TonyDokoupil as the new co-host of @CBSThisMorning beginning in September. https://t.co/wtHE9wcySb pic.twitter.com/6WH3ZKeqQ4
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 11, 2021
Per Page Six, the CBS show previously announced that they’ll be filming from a new studio directly across the street from “GMA” in Times Square.
“The morning [shows] are about chemistry, and Gayle clicked with him. That’s hugely important in the mornings,” a third source said.
A CBS spokesperson has squashed talk that King influenced the network’s decision to hire Burleson.
“This isn’t true. Leadership in news and sports drove this entirely,” they said.
Another CBS insider said Burleson’s hire was because of executives Neeraj Khemlani and Shawna Thomas.
“He was electric when he filled in on the show, and Gayle, like everyone else, is excited he’s joining,” the source said.
CBS is allegedly desperately trying to appeal to a younger audience by attempting to recreate the chemistry between King, Norah O’Donnell, and former staffer Charlie Rose.
“Gayle, Norah and Charlie got so many accolades. The numbers were going up. It was a real bright spot, and then it all fell apart,” the source said. “Gayle had to carry Tony and Anthony Mason to make that show work. No one ever thought that trio was going to match Gayle, Norah and Charlie.”
Burleson’s deal includes a role as an analyst at CBS Sports’ “The NFL Today” and regular appearances on Nickelodeon, according to Variety.
In a press release, Neeraj Khemlani, president and co-head of CBS News and Stations, said Burleson is the “perfect fit for mornings on CBS.”
“There is no doubt that Nate’s experiences and broader interests in news, sports and entertainment will be an exciting addition to the table with Gayle and Tony as we continue to evolve the format of the broadcast to double down on news, original reporting, great storytelling and a broad range of feature pieces that appeal to viewers across the country,” he said in an internal memo.