CBS has ousted two powerful TV station executives — including one who oversaw KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV in Los Angeles — following allegations of racist and abusive behavior.
Peter Dunn, who served as president of the TV Stations group since 2009, and David Friend, the senior vice president of news for more than a decade, are no longer part of CBS, the company’s chief executive, George Cheeks, said in an email to staff on Wednesday, according to multiple media outlets.
The move comes two months after an investigation by the Los Angeles Times alleged that the pair cultivated an environment that included bullying female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists.
The Times reported that interviews and court testimony showed that Dunn, who was based in New York, maintained a grip on operations of the 28 CBS-owned TV stations, including the two in Los Angeles. He installed Friend, a veteran news executive, who oversaw news operations at WCBS-TV Channel 2 in New York as well as the CBS local newsrooms around the country, the Times said.
According to the newspaper, current and former staff members in Los Angeles and elsewhere, and at the flagship station WCBS-TV in New York have complained of a hostile work environment.
Dunn allegedly made racist comments about Ukee Washington, a beloved Black anchor at the CBS-owned television station in Philadelphia, calling Washington “just a jive guy,” according to the Times.
Amid pressure from the National Association of Black Journalists, CBS suspended the two executives a day after the Times’ report in January was published. The company hired an experienced trial attorney, Keisha-Ann Gray of the Proskauer Rose law firm, to investigate the allegations about Dunn and Friend and others in the station group.
CBS said Gray’s investigation is ongoing, the paper reported.
The men have previously denied any inappropriate conduct. On Wednesday, Dunn’s attorney Larry Hutcher said his client was a victim of “cancel culture,” according to the Times.
“There have been no findings of wrong-doing by Peter Dunn,” Hutcher told the newspaper. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed, he will be fully exonerated. But the situation has gotten to the point that they are making him a scapegoat. In this heightened age of not wanting to offend anyone, lives and reputations are being sacrificed.”
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