CBS has placed two top executives on administrative leave as it investigates charges of a hostile work environment for women and minorities at news operations in some of its largest individual stations.
Peter Dunn, president of the CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, senior vice president for news at the stations, are on leave pending the results of an external investigation.
“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,” the network said in a statement.
The accusations were outlined over the weekend in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times and a subsequent meeting between CBS and the National Association of Black Journalists.
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Since 2009, Dunn has been head of stations owned and operated by CBS in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago and others.
The Times said Dunn had referred to a Black male news anchor in Philadelphia as “just a jive guy." One executive at the station quit because she couldn't tolerate the culture and another has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission alleging he was fired for cooperating with an internal review of his bosses, the Times reported.
The NABJ has said CBS stations lag in maintaining diverse staffs, saying New York's WCBS-TV had only one female Black full-time reporter and went five years without a male Black reporter.
“This is toxic. There's no other way to put it,” said Ken Lemon, the NABJ's vice president of broadcast, on Tuesday.
Since the story was published, Lemon said he had talked to at least five other people with new experiences to tell about the working atmosphere at CBS. He said the NABJ is optimistic about the steps CBS has taken.