Home Entertainment CBS shake-up: Two TV station executives exit after L.A. Occasions investigation

CBS shake-up: Two TV station executives exit after L.A. Occasions investigation

CBS has ousted two highly effective TV station executives following allegations of racist and abusive conduct that rocked the storied media large.

Peter Dunn, who served as president of the TV Stations group since 2009, and David Good friend, senior vice chairman of reports for greater than a decade, are not a part of CBS, the corporate’s chief government, George Cheeks, introduced Wednesday in an e mail to workers.

The transfer comes two months after an investigation by the Los Angeles Times alleged that the pair cultivated an surroundings that included bullying feminine managers and blocking efforts to rent and retain Black journalists. The Occasions’ sequence shined a harsh mild on an typically ignored nook of the corporate that lacks the status of the CBS tv community however stays an important supply of native information for hundreds of thousands of People.

Dunn, who was based mostly in New York, maintained a good grip on operations of the 28 CBS-owned TV stations, together with KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles, in response to interviews and courtroom testimony. Dunn in 2010 promoted Good friend, a veteran information government who oversaw information operations at WCBS-TV Channel 2 in New York, to go of CBS’ native newsrooms throughout the nation.

Dozens of present and former workers members in Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia and New York have complained of a hostile work surroundings. Journalists in New York alleged that managers typically made information protection selections that uncared for communities of shade. The flagship WCBS station in New York — one of many nation’s most various cities — lacked a full-time Black male reporter till March 2020, the identical month that Cheeks, who’s biracial, took the reins at CBS.

“Eradicating these two people is an effective begin,” outstanding Black journalist Roland Martin mentioned in an interview. “However there may be a lot extra work that must be finished all through CBS. There are some systemic and cultural points that exist, and I wish to hear a deeper and broader plan to deal with them.”

Allegations that Dunn made racist feedback about Ukee Washington, a beloved Black anchor on the CBS-owned tv station in Philadelphia, struck a chord. Former CBS station managers alleged that Dunn known as Washington “only a jive man” and that Dunn ridiculed the dance strikes of the favored anchor, who’s a distant cousin of actor Denzel Washington.

Peter Dunn at the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame Awards in New York in 2017.

Peter Dunn attends the Broadcasting & Cable Corridor of Fame Awards twenty seventh Anniversary Gala in New York in October 2017.

(Andy Kropa / Invision/AP)

Within the wake of The Occasions’ sequence, Washington’s colleagues spoke out in assist of him and Philadelphia’s Metropolis Council adopted a decision commending Washington for his “professionalism” and “excellent work and repair to the group.”

The sequence additionally raised questions on a $55-million buy of a TV station on New York’s Lengthy Island — the one station acquisition throughout Dunn’s 11-year tenure overseeing CBS’ station group. The 2011 deal got here with privileges for Dunn and different high-level CBS executives at an ultra-exclusive golf membership within the Hamptons, the place they hobnobbed with billionaires, together with the proprietor of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross.

In January, CBS known as the Lengthy Island station buy a “strategic acquisition” that created worth by giving the broadcaster two stations in New York, the nation’s largest media market, and that Dunn’s membership was disclosed upfront to senior administration and authorized counsel.

Amid stress from the Nationwide Assn. of Black Journalists, CBS suspended the two executives a day after The Occasions’ report was printed in January.

The corporate shortly employed an skilled trial lawyer, Keisha-Ann Grey of the Proskauer Rose regulation agency, to research the allegations about Dunn and Good friend and different rating executives within the station group, which employs about 2,800 folks.

Cheeks, in his e mail, emphasised that Grey’s investigation is ongoing.

Dunn and Good friend have beforehand denied any inappropriate conduct.

On Wednesday, Dunn’s lawyer, Larry Hutcher, mentioned his shopper was a sufferer of “cancel tradition,” and that Dunn expects to stay on CBS’ payroll till the investigation concludes.

“There have been no findings of wrongdoing by Peter Dunn,” Hutcher mentioned in an interview. “We’re assured that when the investigation is accomplished, he can be absolutely exonerated. However the state of affairs has gotten to the purpose that they’re making him a scapegoat. On this heightened age of not eager to offend anybody, lives and reputations are being sacrificed.”

Hutcher mentioned Dunn hasn’t been interviewed by the investigators but.

CBS, late Wednesday, defended its choice to terminate the 2 executives whereas the investigators had been nonetheless gathering proof.

“Whereas we received’t touch upon the specifics of an ongoing investigation, it’s clear to us that this motion is acceptable and essential presently,” a CBS spokesperson mentioned in an announcement. “Any choice relating to termination for ‘trigger’ can be made on the conclusion of the investigation.”

Good friend’s lawyer, David Pohl, didn’t instantly present remark.

In a February assertion, Pohl mentioned the allegations in opposition to Good friend are “wholly unfounded and clearly opportunistic given the timing and absurdity of the claims. To be clear, the information business is extremely demanding, and Mr. Good friend makes no apologies for working with ardour and a relentless pursuit of excellence. His selections have at all times been grounded in what’s finest for the success of the Information Division and his workers, and any assertion that his selections had been made based mostly on race, sexuality, or gender is totally false and uninformed.”

Thus far, dozens of present and former executives have met with Gray and her colleague at Proskauer Rose as a part of that investigation and extra interviews are scheduled all through April. A number of folks instructed The Occasions they’ve complained concerning the alleged abusive work surroundings contained in the TV stations group past Philadelphia and New York.

“We recognize those that have already supplied info to the investigators,” Cheeks wrote. “This complete course of, whereas typically painful and emotional, is a crucial step ahead in dwelling as much as our promise of a protected, inclusive, respectful and equitable office for all of us.”

In his be aware to workers, Cheeks wrote: “We’ve got decided that CBS Stations President Peter Dunn and SVP of Information David Good friend aren’t returning to their positions and can be leaving the Firm. Till we’ve new management in place, Bryon Rubin will proceed to run the Stations group whereas Kim Godwin will proceed her oversight of Stations’ information operations. I’ll be sure you replace you with details about everlasting management for the group as quickly as it’s finalized.”

Cheeks has been working CBS for little greater than a yr.

The Occasions’ sequence documented that a number of folks got here ahead to complain about their therapy within the TV station group in 2018, and that CBS inner investigators seemed into the conduct of Dunn and Good friend in 2019. Among the many accusations, Dunn allegedly requested whether or not a candidate for an anchor function was “too homosexual for Philadelphia.”

A former Philadelphia information director, Margaret Cronan, mentioned that Good friend belittled her throughout a gathering of senior executives, asking whether or not she was “a [expletive] fool.” She mentioned her efforts to rent Black male reporters had been thwarted. Cronan left CBS, saying she didn’t wish to be a part of a tradition that she perceived as racist and sexist.

“I prayed that CBS executives would make this choice, and I’m relieved that they did,” Cronan mentioned Wednesday. “There’s nonetheless a lot work that must be finished, however with these two people out, there may be promise forward. There’s hope — and that’s one thing that those that have labored in that division of CBS haven’t felt in a very long time.”

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