John Roberts announced Wednesday that he will be leaving CBS News, where he served for six years as chief White House correspondent, to become a national correspondent at CNN.
CNN announced in a press release: "Roberts will report on a broad range of pressing stories developing in the nation's capital. He will contribute as a correspondent to programs throughout the network." He starts on Feb. 20.
In addition to heading CBS Evening News' White House coverage for more than six years, the 49-year-old Roberts also served for 10 years as anchor for the Sunday edition of CBS Evening News and was a substitute anchor for Face the Nation. In the early 1990s, Roberts was a New York-based CBS Evening News correspondent and briefly served as anchor of the Saturday CBS Evening News from February 1999 until he moved to solely covering the White House.
Roberts, a native Canadian, got his start in news as a correspondent for a local TV station, City TV, in Toronto. He moved to a correspondent job in Miami and later became a co-anchor of Canada A.M.
"When I was a wide-eyed kid, learning the ropes at a 5 thousand watt radio station in the middle of nowhere, never in my most elaborate dreams did I imagine I would become a member of the CBS family," Roberts wrote in a letter to colleagues. "Just to have played a modest part in the history of this grand institution is an incredible reward."
During his tenure with CBS News, Roberts reported on-site for many breaking news stories and traveled extensively, including covering the war in Iraq as well the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He has filed reports from around the globe, including Nicaragua, India and Russia.
CBSNews.com's Public Eye reported on the "life of a White House story" by tracking Roberts and his producers.
Roberts was widely considered the top internal choice at CBS to succeed Dan Rather, who stepped down as evening news anchor last March, The Associated Press reports. But as the months went on without CBS announcing a successor, and with patron CBS News President Andrew Heyward leaving his job, it became clear Roberts wasn't a favorite of CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves.
As Bob Schieffer has filled in on the CBS Evening News, boosting the show's ratings, CBS has courted NBC Today Show host Katie Couric to become the new anchor. Couric's NBC contract expires in May.
New CBS News President Sean McManus said last month that even if Couric doesn't join CBS, the new evening news anchor wasn't likely to come from within the network's ranks. He indicated that CBS didn't have a stable of high-profile talent ready to take over the job.
In his message to colleagues, Roberts said he will take a little of CBS with him to the cable news network.
"So much of who I am as a person is an amalgam of experience and influence working with this industry's top professionals, for which I am truly thankful," Roberts wrote. "There was never a day, during my entire tenure here, that I didn't learn something from you."
By Christine Lagorio