Rhodes “saw the writing on the wall” and worked on an exit strategy over the holidays, Page Six understands.
And a source told us they feared he had been used, saying: “David’s contract was up in February and he saw the writing on the wall.
“There were discussions over the holidays. He wasn’t going to be fired, but he strongly felt he was about to be pushed out.
“But when the end came, it came quickly. He had to be prepared. I do feel that CBS used him as somewhat of a fall guy.
“I mean, he was there for eight years – he’s not responsible for what Charlie Rose did. He’s a good guy who was in an untenable position.”
Rhodes spent Sunday with family as the news of his departure came out.
He’ll stay on at CBS as an adviser as Susan Zirinsky, Senior Executive Producer, takes his job.
And the source said: “They need somebody around to help – running a news division is not like producing. But who knows how long this deal will be for.
“David ran Bloomberg TV and CBS News, he’s a smart competent guy, he will 100 percent land on his feet.”
And one long-time CBS News staffer was even more outspoken, saying: “David Rhodes is seemingly being made to carry the can for all the s–t that’s gone down at CBS, even though he’s a really good guy.
“What we think happened is that CBS freaked out because they needed to do something and draw a line under everything that has happened.
“But it’s unfair because David really cared about CBS News, he was the one who was trying to keep everyone going through difficult times.”
The staffer claimed there are a lot of people “who want out” at CBS News, saying staff had been kept in the dark during such a tense period, adding: “Look at “60 Minutes”, only two years ago it was the network’s most profitable show and now it’s bleeding viewers.”d
Meanwhile, Gayle King – who as we told has been furious about the issues at CBS – is ecstatic at Zirinsky’s arrival, telling “CBS This Morning” viewers Monday: “I feel that we were sort of like a ship, not sinking, but taking on water.
“And I feel that she is somebody who can right the ship. She is a smart cookie, and she is a bad-ass in every sense of the word.”
Zirinsky, known as Z to her CBS News colleagues, become the first woman to lead the storied news division that was once home to Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.
King’s co-host Norah O’Donnell chimed in: “She is known for her original reporting, her great producing skills, she is a great journalist, and in addition to that she also happens to have a kind heart and cares about the people that work here,” she added. “A new day is on the horizon.”
Another source told us: “Everyone I speak to is so thrilled about Susan’s promotion They love her.”
A CBS News rep declined to comment.