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CBS White House reporter jumping to CNN

John Roberts reportedly upset about being passed over for anchor job
/ Source: The Associated Press

Veteran CBS White House correspondent John Roberts, snubbed by his network during the long search for Dan Rather’s successor, has jumped to CNN.

As a senior national correspondent based in Washington, Roberts will report for various CNN newscasts throughout the day, said Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S., on Wednesday. He starts on Feb. 20.

Roberts, 49, has been CBS News’ chief White House correspondent for six years, and anchored the Sunday edition of the “CBS Evening News” for more than 10 years.

He was widely considered the top internal choice to succeed Dan Rather, who stepped down as evening news anchor last March. But as the months went on without CBS announcing a successor, and with patron CBS News President Andrew Heyward being forced out of his job, it became clear Roberts wasn’t a favorite of CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves.

As Bob Schieffer has filled in on the 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.

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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.

Roberts joined CBS in 1992 and was a news anchor for “CBS This Morning.” He was also a New York-based correspondent for the evening news before heading to Washington.

Roberts was CBS’ most high-profile correspondent on the scene covering Hurricane Katrina last year. He made his last appearance for the network during Tuesday’s coverage of President Bush’s State of the Union address.

“Leaving CBS News will be difficult — no question,” Roberts said in an e-mail to CBS colleagues Wednesday. “The ache of anxious anticipation has been gnawing away at me for some time now. It’s not just the thought of leaving behind the comfort of familiar surroundings. It’s about the many colleagues around the world whom I have come to call friends.”