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CHICAGO (CBS) — Two top CBS local news station executives who have been accused of a disturbing pattern of racist and sexist behavior are no longer with the company.
“Peter Dunn, President of the CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, Senior Vice President of News for the Stations group, will not return to their positions and will be leaving the Company,” CBS said in a statement. “On an interim basis, Bryon Rubin will continue to run the Stations group while Kim Godwin will continue her oversight of Stations’ news operations until new leadership is in place.
“The external investigation into CBS Television Stations management that is being conducted by Keisha-Ann Gray at Proskauer Rose remains ongoing. We are thankful to those who have shared their experiences and knowledge with the investigators thus far. 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.”
The Los Angeles Times first broke the story in January after it obtained legal papers from a former employee of KYW-TV, CBS 3 in Philadelphia. They describe Dunn repeatedly disparaging veteran anchor Ukee Washington, who’s Black. It’s alleged Dunn said Washington was “jive” and “all he does is dance.”
It’s alleged Friend was angry about the hiring of KYW morning anchor Brooke Thomas. According to a former KYW news director, Friend was “just venom and profanity. He screamed, “Tell her to shut the (expletive) up.” The station fired Thomas just months later.
Later, Dunn, it is alleged, objected to extending the contract of Rahel Soloman, who replaced Thomas, because, quote, “I hate her face.”
The LA Times also reports WBBM-TV, CBS 2 Chicago’s former president and general manager Marty Wilke was forced out by Dunn in 2018. The newspaper quoting Wilke as saying “the culture starts and stops with Peter Dunn.”
Both Dunn and Friend were placed on leave after the allegations surfaced.
Friend was also the news director for WCBS-TV, CBS 2 in New York, and was accused of being verbally abusive in the workplace. Don Champion, a former CBS 2 New York 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.”
CBS responded in a statement, saying: “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.”
An attorney for Friend has not replied to a request for comment, but in a prior statement, Friend told the Times “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.”
On Wednesday afternoon, CBS 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.”
Contributing: CBS New York
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