Scott Pelley, one of the most experienced and awarded correspondents in broadcast journalism, has been reporting stories for 60 MINUTES since 2004. The 2019-2020 season is his 16th on the broadcast.
Not many have made as wide and as deep a mark on a news organization as Pelley. In addition to his contributions as anchor of the CBS EVENING NEWS, his stories for 60 MINUTES have accounted for half of all the major awards won by the broadcast since he joined it. Pelley has won a record 37 Emmys for field work, nearly all of them for 60 MINUTES stories, which also have been recognized with five Edward R. Murrow Awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, three Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Silver Batons, a George Polk Award, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Overseas Press Club of America, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Writers Guild of America.
Pelley is the author of a new memoir, Truth Worth Telling: A Reporter’s Search for Meaning in the Stories of Our Times.
Pelley recently conducted news-making interviews with Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Egyptian dictator Abdel Fatta el-Sisi. His report on surgeons savings lives in hospitals bombed by the Syrian government took two 2018 Emmys, including Best Report in a Newsmagazine. Other assignments in the Middle East and North Africa saw Pelley reporting on war and famine and interviewing the King Abdullah II of Jordan. In Syria he did a poignant profile of the civil defense group known as the “White Helmets” that rescues victims from the rubble of bombing attacks, a story that won two Emmys. Cruel and deadly gas attacks were the subject of two reports in the region. “A Crime Against Humanity” drew the world’s attention to the horrifying deaths of victims, including young children and earned a duPont-Columbia, electronic journalism’s highest award, and an Emmy. Pelley won another Emmy for his report from Paris on the city’s terror attacks that made 60 MINUTES’ air less than 48 hours after the event.
Another shooting attack, this one at an Ohio school featuring a hero teacher, saw Pelley win two more Emmys in 2015. 60 MINUTES got six Emmys that year; five of them were for Pelley’s stories, including Best Report in a Newsmagazine for his news-breaker on controversial baseball star Alex Rodriguez.
When over 800 were sickened and 64 people died of meningitis after fungus was discovered in their medication, Pelley made news and won a Murrow Award with his interview of a whistleblower from the company where the tainted medicine was manufactured. Pelley has also found compelling and unique stories for 60 MINUTES in the wake of breaking news, including the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a story that won a duPont-Columbia and an Emmy.
Pelley did several stories on the Great Recession’s effects on the everyday American. Four of the reports won Emmys, including a story about homeless children living in a car that also raised awareness and then millions of dollars for a local charity. His story about Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, who survived the explosion that caused one of the largest oil spills in history, won a duPont and two Emmy Awards. An interview with a retired Navy SEAL who helped kill Osama bin Laden was the first public account of the raid and won Pelley and his 60 MINUTES team two Emmys and an Overseas Press Club Award.
Pelley’s investigation into American “e-waste,” tracing a secret shipment of discarded toxic technology to wastelands overseas, won six awards. He broke news with “Rendition,” an Emmy-winning investigation into the CIA’s practice of handing over terrorist suspects to foreign countries known to use torture. Another overseas story, about a ship that treats Third World sufferers of debilitating facial deformities, earned an Emmy. Other memorable interviews included that of a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant who led a squad accused of killing 22 civilians in Iraq and another in which former CIA Director George Tenet broke his silence about 9/11.
Pelley has interviewed President Barack Obama on several occasions, including during CBS Sports’ live, pre-game coverage of Super Bowl XLVII and in Rome after President Obama’s first meeting with Pope Francis. Pelley’s list of 60 MINUTES interview subjects includes President George W. Bush and two unprecedented interviews with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke – the first time in decades that a sitting Federal Reserve Chairman allowed an interview. Additionally, Pelley conducted the first broadcast interview with Supreme Court Associate Justices Sandra Day O’Conner and Sonia Sotomayor and has also interviewed Justice John Paul Stevens; Afghan President Hamid Karzai; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta aboard the jet nicknamed the “Doomsday Plane.”
Pelley joined CBS News as a reporter based in New York in 1989. In 1990 he was assigned for a year to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, during the Persian Gulf crisis. He also covered Baghdad and broadcast live reports during Iraqi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.
Pelley later served as a CBS News correspondent based in Dallas, where he covered many of the biggest domestic stories, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the trial of Timothy McVeigh and the Branch Davidian siege. He was assigned to the 1992 presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Ross Perot and reported on the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the Los Angeles Northridge earthquake, Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo, and NASA’s shuttle missions.
Pelley was named CBS News’ chief White House correspondent in 1997. While covering the Clinton White House, Pelley broke more stories than anyone and was first to report that Monica Lewinsky had become a cooperating witness in the investigation conducted by the Office of the Independent Counsel. He also reported on the impeachment of President Clinton and was first to report that President Clinton had become the first president ever subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Pelley was among the first reporters to arrive on the scene of the Twin Towers. His award-winning live reports from Ground Zero and the subsequent search and recovery operations exhibited his innate ability to provide a deeper understanding of news events.
Before joining 60 MINUTES, Pelley was a correspondent for “60 Minutes II.” He served as anchor of the CBS EVENING NEWS from 2011 to 2017.
Pelley served on the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee, the refugee relief agency headquartered in New York City. Later, he was co-chair of the IRC’s Overseers. He was inducted into the Texas Tech University alumni Hall of Fame and serves on the board of the university’s School of Mass Communications.
Prior to his time at CBS News, Pelley was a producer/reporter for WFAA-TV Dallas/Fort Worth (1982-1989), KXAS-TV Dallas/Fort Worth (1978-1981) and KSEL-TV Lubbock, Texas (1975-1978). He began his journalism career at the age of 15 as a copyboy at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper.
Scott Pelley was born in San Antonio, Texas, and attended journalism school at Texas Tech University. He and his wife, Jane Boone Pelley, have a son and a daughter.