Top editor exits after clash with CBS News boss over rescue of Afghan journalists

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A top editor at CBS News resigned last week after clashing with the network’s co-president over whether to rescue Afghan journalists and fixers from the chaos-ridden country last year, The Post has learned.

London Bureau Chief Andy Clarke, a 38-year CBS veteran who was responsible for dispatching journalists around the world, stepped down last week after multiple disagreements with CBS News co-president Neeraj Khemlani over budget cuts, according to sources close to the network.

Clarke’s breaking point, insiders said, came when Khemlani initially refused to pony up cash to extradite Afghan journalists and fixers who worked for CBS last year when President Biden ordered US troops to pull out of Afghanistan. 

Eventually, Clarke won a standoff and convinced Khemlani to pay and send the Afghan staffers to Canada, sources said. Nevertheless, the reluctance of Khemlani — who, as reported by The Post, has been razor-focused on cutting costs at the network — pushed Clarke over the edge, insiders said.

 A person leaves CBS studio on the westside of midtown in New York,
London bureau chief Andy Clarke is said to have left the company amid a rift with CBS News president Neeraj Khemlani.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

A rep from CBS told The Post: “There have been no cuts to resources or requests denied out of Afghanistan. We are in investment mode. Whether it’s growing the number of employees, which is up year-over-year, or creating more inventory across our shows for international reporting, or working with an outside firm to build a tech solution that will help our newsgathering.”

The rep added: “These claims are patently false and made further ridiculous after we just delivered a live hour co-anchored from Ukraine on our streaming channel.”

But sources close to Clarke said otherwise, claiming that the constant battle with Khemlani pushed Clarke over the edge.

neeraj khemlani
CBS News co-president Neeraj Khemlani’s hard-charging management style has ruffled feathers at the network.

“Andy didn’t want to leave CBS, but emotionally, he couldn’t afford to stay,” a source said.

“It’s devastating for the network,” another source said. “Andy Clarke was the type of professional who made the most of the limited resources that were available by CBS to cover the world.”

Clarke, whose last day is March 25, alluded to the Afghan situation in a note to staffers last week.

“I held on through Christmas as I wanted to make sure our Afghan colleagues would make it to Canada and that is guaranteed to happen in the next few weeks,” Clarke wrote. “It’s been a largely enjoyable 38 years, for many I was privileged enough to have a front row seat helping to write the first draft of history.”

One source close to the network insisted that Clarke wasn’t denied anything he was asking for when dealing with Khemlani.

CBS News signage on the ViacomCBS headquarters
CBS News is in the process of restructuring under co-presidents Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon, as it transforms its streaming, digital and broadcast operations.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Clarke didn’t respond to requests for comment.

His exit is the latest in a stampede during Khemlani’s 10-month stint as co-president of the news division. One CBS insider griped that Khemlani, an exec who comes from the Hearst publishing empire, “doesn’t know what things cost” at a global TV network.

“There’s not enough oversight over Neeraj,” another angry CBS employee said. “This should be a wake-up call to people.”

Signage is displayed at the ViacomCBS Inc. headquarters in New York,
CBS-parent ViacomCBS has set some aggressive cost-cutting goals for the network, according to sources.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Other recent departures include vice president of editorial Lex Haris; senior vice president of human resources Jose Andino; executive vice president and general manager of CBS News Digital Christy Tanner; CBS News creative director Renee Cullen; and senior vice president of CBS News Digital Susanne Mei.

Investigative reporter Mireya Villarreal also has left, as have CBS News former standards and foreign editor Tony Cavin, CBS News executive producer of Special Events Eva Nordstrom and senior executive producer for streaming service CBSN Darius Walker. 

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