NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – We have an update in the investigation into CBS Stations President Peter Dunn and Senior Vice President of News David Friend.Earth Day 2021: A Closer Look At New York City's Water Supply
Wednesday afternoon, it was announced they are not returning.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports, in an email to employees, President and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group George Cheeks wrote, “We have determined that CBS Stations President Peter Dunn and SVP of News David Friend are not returning to their positions and will be leaving the company.”
“I want to be very clear that the external investigation… is not over and will continue,” Cheeks added.
Following a January Los Angeles Times story alleging sexism, racism and homophobia by CBS executives Dunn and Friend, the two, who ran 28 local CBS stations, were placed on administrative leave.
The article focused largely on CBS station KYW-TV in Philadelphia, reviewing allegations that Dunn and Friend “cultivated a hostile work environment that included bullying female managers” and “blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists.”
According to administrative filings obtained by the L.A. Times, anchor Ukee Washington, a 30-year veteran at KYW, was a victim of Dunn’s disparaging insults. Former employees told the Times Dunn frequently belittled Washington, referring to him as “just a jive guy.”
He’s also accused of calling one morning anchor candidate “too gay for Philadelphia.”
Watch Alice Gainer’s report —
Friend, Dunn’s right hand man, also the news director for WCBS in New York, was accused of being verbally abusive in the workplace. Don Champion, a former WCBS freelance reporter, told CBS back in January he was warned of problems at WCBS-TV before starting in 2013.
“My agent warned me: Be careful. You’re gay, Black and a man,” Champion said.
Champion wondered: “How many other lives and careers they’ve ruined? I mean, these are two very, very powerful men in the TV news industry.”
CBS internally investigated Dunn in 2019, and said back in January “senior management at the time addressed the situation” with him, but had not had new complaints since then.
Peter Dunn’s attorney said, “We are disappointed in the ruling but CBS has not found any wrongdoing in relation to Peter Dunn. The termination is without cause and Peter continues to be paid according to his contract. We hope that in the future he will be fully exonerated.”READ MORE: Far Rockaway Residents Fed Up With Graveyard Of Sunken Boats, Rusted Barges Filled With Garbage
As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reports, CBS said Wednesday night, “While we won’t comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, it is clear to us that this action is appropriate and necessary at this time. Any decision regarding termination for ‘Cause’ will be made at the conclusion of the investigation.”
The company also said, “CBS is committed to a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken when necessary.”
Both men oversaw WCBS-TV in New York.
Thursday morning, attorneys for Dunn and Friend released new statements.
Friend’s attorney David Pohl released this statement.
David Friend’s separation from CBS was, as the company itself acknowledges, without any finding that he engaged in the misconduct alleged. That critical fact should be reported accurately. After two months, the investigation is ongoing – David has yet to be interviewed – and he is confident that, when it concludes, the accusations will be proven false.
Mr. Friend is incredibly proud of the success he achieved during his 14 years at CBS.
Throughout his career as an award-winning and respected journalist, he fought for the people in his news departments and battled powerful politicians and interest groups, fighting for justice for his viewers and their communities. He has been a tough and even-handed leader who has been privileged to support numerous colleagues in their careers and promote diversity in CBS’s newsrooms and in its newscasts.
He is defined by his successes and buoyed by the numerous colleagues, mentees, and employees that have reached out to offer tremendous support and encouragement over the last few months. This support was a clear reminder of what a past (and previously reported) investigation found – that he is a tough but fair boss. He is confident that at its conclusion, this current investigation will find the same.
Mr. Friend knows he has been immensely blessed in his 43-year career. He looks forward to what’s next and will enthusiastically pursue the future with honor, integrity, and a continued commitment to excellence.
Dunn’s attorney Larry Hutcher released this statement:
Peter has been an effective leader for the CBS television stations across 17 different markets, honored widely by his peers, and recognized as a mentor over many decades.
He has a strong record of hiring and promoting professionals of diverse backgrounds and has been a champion of women and men of color throughout the organization.
While CBS has stated it has terminated Peter, it is not for-cause, but rather about a loss of trust regarding yet to be investigated allegations. They continue to pay him under his contract.MORE NEWS: Long Island Woman Sues Home Depot, Says She Was Denied Job Due To Having Medical Marijuana Card
We are confident that the investigation will exonerate Peter and are prepared to fully cooperate, but the opportunity to do so has not yet occurred.