Two top executives at ViacomCBS were suspended Monday over accusations of racist and sexist behavior, according to an investigation from The Los Angeles Times.
CBS put out a statement confirming the suspensions of Peter Dunn and David Friend, two executives in charge of the company's array of local TV stations.
"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," the company said in the statement obtained by The Hill.
The suspensions came after an L.A. Times investigation that alleged that executives regularly disparaged and bullied female journalists in positions of power while blocking career advancement and the hiring of Black journalists.
In comments to the Times, former top employees at CBS stations around the country alleged a culture of toxicity spread by Dunn, including racist remarks aimed at an African American anchor of CBS's Philadelphia television station, KYW Channel 3.
Multiple figures at the station described how Dunn and Friend worked to undermine and undercut Black on-air talent at the Philadelphia station with disparaging and sometimes racist remarks.
Dunn declined to comment to the Times, while Friend told the newspaper that any remarks he was accused of making were based on employees' performance, not racial or other characteristics. Their suspensions followed a meeting Monday between CBS executives and members of the National Association of Black Journalists.
“I believe that I — and our stations — have a strong track record of hiring, supporting and placing women and BIPOC journalists in important roles as anchors, reporters and news directors,” Friend said, according to 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.”
The company told the Times Monday that "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."