CBS News boss tells staffers ‘we are winning’ — but fails to ease layoff worries: sources

CBS News’ controversial co-president Neeraj Khemlani told staffers “we are winning” during a virtual town hall meeting — but didn’t rule out the possibility of layoffs during a Q&A session, sources told The Post.

Khemlani — who is facing an internal HR review over his brash, sharp-elbowed management style — read a speech from a teleprompter during a Wednesday event that mainly confused employees, according to sources briefed on the meeting.

“We are winning,” Khemlani said during the event, according to an atttendee. “We have momentum.”

Nevertheless, at the end of the town hall, livestreamed from CBS News Broadcast Center in New York, Khemlani and the producers failed to ease anxiety among staffers when responding to questions about the volatile media environment — and whether CBS News will be hit by layoffs, according to a source.

Neeraj Khemlani, CBS News co-president hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday
CBS News co-president Neeraj Khemlani was vague about whether the network would need to cut jobs.
Variety via Getty Images

“Neeraj was vague. He said we ‘got ahead of it early,’ but he didn’t say the network was immune,” the insider said. “I didn’t understand what the point of this meeting was.”

Khemlani touted growth in streaming, saying the division was up 20% but the source said but he didn’t give specifics.

“He said CBS News is the best place to work,” the source added. “Meanwhile everyone walks around like they want to kill themselves.”

Other staffers were still more pointed voicing in their dissatisfaction.

“I felt like I was in a Kim Jong-Un propaganda movie,” one insider told The Post. “It was like North Korean propaganda.”

CBS News signage on the ViacomCBS headquarters
Morale has plummetted at the Tiffany Network under Khemlani, who was tapped to restructure the network and cut costs.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Morale has plummeted under Khemlani, who was tapped as co-president with Wendy McMahon in April 2021. The hard-charging exec has restructured the network, slashing jobs and bruising egos.

The Post reported that Khemlani has a handful of human resource complaints out against him, and he has been given mandatory training sessions on how to speak more professionally to subordinates. Khemlani’s difficult tenure at CBS News has caused some to wonder how much longer the exec will remain in his job.

Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon
CBS News co-president Wendy McMahon (R) hosted her own town hall meeting weeks earlier, which sources called “inspiring.”
Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock

Although some speculated that Khemlani’s townhall was a means for him to practice the lessons gleaned from his training, one insider said it was in response to McMahon’s townhall a few weeks earlier.

“Wendy hosted a townhall a few weeks ago that was polished and inspiring and had actual news and info,” the insider said. “Neeraj’s was a hot mess. It was a joke.”

Three CBS insiders mused that Khemlani likely feels threatened that his job is in jeopardy and that his well-liked co-president could eventually nab his job.

Other highlights of Khemlani’s meeting included presentations from executive producers from the network’s shows, like “CBS Mornings,” “60 Minutes” and “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.” Those producers discussed what was working for their shows and the overall strategy, which some employees found “useful and interesting.”

CBS News did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

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