NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Two longtime CBS news executives are now on administrative leave as ViacomCBS investigates allegations of racist and sexist behavior.
The allegations came to light in a report published by the Los Angeles Times.READ MORE: Families Hopeful Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Will Make It Easier To Reach Homebound Seniors
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reports, the allegations revealed in a Los Angeles Times investigation accuse CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn of running a hostile, racist, sexist and homophobic work environment.
According to an administrative filing obtained by the L.A. Times, anchor Ukee Washington, a 30-year veteran at KYW, the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, was a victim of Dunn’s disparaging insults.
Former KYW employees told the Times Dunn frequently belittled Washington, who’s Black, referring to him as “just a jive guy,” and would say “all he does is dance.”
He’s also accused of calling one morning anchor “too gay for Philadelphia.”
According to reviewed claims in the Times, demeaning language was a shared trait of Dunn’s right hand man, Senior Vice President David Friend, who is also the news director for WCBS in New York.
Friend is accused of being critical when KYW hired Black journalist Brooke Thomas as a morning anchor in 2016.
Former News Director Margaret Cronin described to the L.A. Times a phone call with Friend on Thomas’ second day on air as “just venom and profanity.” He screamed “Tell her to shut the [expletive] up.”
Cronan, who also claims she was bullied by Dunn and Friend, says two weeks later, Friend ordered her to fire Thomas.
According to the Times report, Dunn was allegedly against extending the contract of Thomas’ replacement, anchor Rahel Solomon, who’s Ethiopian, in part because “I hate her face.”READ MORE: Third Stimulus Check: How Could The Economic Relief Package Put More Money In Your Pocket?
Peter Dunn has not commented on the allegations, but in a statement to the Times, David Friend said “These comments I may have made about our employees or prospective hires were only based on performance or qualifications, not about anyone’s race or gender.”
CBS began an investigation into workplace culture following the 2017 termination of CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose for sexual harassment allegations – allegations he denies.
Employee interviews from that investigation eventually lead to the firing of then-Chairman and CBS CEO Les Moonves, who also denies all allegations of misconduct.
Peter Dunn came up during an investigation into workplace culture in 2019. Former KYW General Manager Brian Kennedy says Dunn fired him for cooperating with the investigation. CBS released a statement to the L.A. Times saying they had not had any complaints against Dunn since.
On Sunday night, CBS Entertainment Group Chief George Cheeks met with leaders from the National Association of Black Journalists. NABJ said in a statement that in order for the company’s culture to be transformed, it must begin with the firing of Dunn and Friend.
CBS released the following statement:
Peter Dunn, President of the CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, Senior Vice President, News for the TV Stations, have been 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.
Hazel Sanchez has been a reporter for for WCBS-TV for 20 years, at least five years before Peter Dunn and David Friend were hired. It’s a very difficult time for our CBS family, she reported. The allegations are disappointing, hurtful, and, for some, triggering.
Moving forward, the leadership here has promised to foster and maintain a positive, inclusive and equitable workplace, she reported.
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