Top CBS Execs Suspended After LA Times Exposes ‘Widening Allegations’ Of Racist, Sexist Conduct
Two top CBS executives have been suspended following a LA Times investigation detailing “widening allegations that the pair cultivated an environment that included bullying female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists.“
According to allegations, Peter Dunn, president of CBS television stations, frequently denigrated black news anchor Ukee Washington (a distant relative of Denzel Washington) at Philadelphia CBS station KYW, calling him “just a jive guy” and criticizing his dancing. Several black journalists reportedly had either left positions at the Philadelphia station, or were blocked by either Dunn or Peter Friend – one of Dunn’s lieutenants and the senior vice president for news.
In addition to the comments about Washington, Dunn allegedly refused to approve a contract extension for another Black anchor, Rahel Solomon, a Philadelphia native who served as KYW morning anchor for more than two years. [Former senior Philadelphia station executive Brien] Kennedy, in an interview, said that in a two-plus-hour phone call, Dunn raised “bizarre objections,” such as saying, “I hate her face.” –LA Times
Hours after the Times report, the National association of Black Journalists held a meeting with high-level ViacoomCBS executives, “including CBS Entertainment Chief Executive George Cheeks and ViacomCBS Executive Vice President Marva Smalls, who oversees the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts,” during which NABJ members raised other complaints and demanded the firing of Dunn and Friend.
In a statement, NABJ criticized CBS’ hiring practices at its flagship TV station, WCBS-TV Channel 2 in New York, saying the station only recently hired a full-time Black male reporter in New York after five years without one. NABJ also said that WCBS has just one full-time Black female reporter and only one Black news producer in New York. In addition to overseeing the entire CBS TV stations chain, Dunn has managed WCBS since 2005. –LA Times
Four female CBS executives have also accused Dunn of bullying between 2017 and 2019.
In a late Monday statement, the network said that Dunn and David were “placed on administrative leave, pending the results of a third-party investigation into issues that include those raised in a recent Los Angeles Times report. CBS is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken where necessary.”
CBS took action just one day after The Times published an investigation that detailed how senior executives disparaged CBS station employees in Philadelphia, the nation’s fourth-largest media market. Dunn ran the Philadelphia station from 2002 through 2004 before several promotions. For the last 11 years, he has been in charge of CBS’ 28 television stations across the country, including KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles.
The division has 2,800 employees and provides local news for millions of viewers who live in cities where CBS owns a TV station, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and New York. –LA Times
Friend said in a statement to the Times that comments he “may have made” about employees or prospective hires “were only based on performance or qualifications – not about anyone’s race or gender.”
Meanwhile, the Times investigation also uncovered fresh controversy over a CBS’ $55 million purchase of independent New York station WLNY-TV – which included a membership to the ultra-exclusive Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton NY, provided by former WLNY owner, Michael Pascucci. According to CBS, the membership belonged to the company but was put in Dunn’s name because the club doesn’t have corporate memberships.
According to Cheeks, CBS Chief Operating Officer Bryon Rubin will lead the TV station group on an interim basis, saying in a statement to CBS staff that “Bryon is very familiar with your business and ready to support your efforts.“
Tue, 01/26/2021 – 11:40