CBS ousts two senior executives amid racism, abuse allegations

Two senior CBS TV station executives have been let go following a January Los Angeles Times investigation into their alleged racist and abusive behavior at the company, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The two executives — Peter Dunn and David Friend — had been suspended since Jan. 25, a day after the Times published an investigation into allegations that the two men had “cultivated an environment that included bullying female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists.”

CBS CEO George Cheeks announced their departures in a staff email obtained by the Times.

“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,” Cheeks wrote.

The Times investigation from January was based, in part, on an internal CBS probe and allegations that Dunn had repeatedly made racist remarks about a Black anchor at a Philadelphia CBS television station and that Friend had screamed profanities and acted abusively toward subordinates.

Dunn’s attorney, Larry Hutcher, said that while CBS terminated Peter, “it is not for-cause, and they continue to pay him under his contract.”

“[Dunn] 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,” Hutcher added. “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.”

Friend’s attorney David Pohl also said he expects the probe to clear his client; “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.”

CBS did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on Wednesday.

Even with their departures, Cheeks said the investigation into their behavior “is not over and will continue.”

“We appreciate those who have already provided information to the investigators,” he wrote in the staff email. “This entire process, while sometimes painful and emotional, is an important step forward in living up to our promise of a safe, inclusive, respectful and equitable workplace for all of us.”

Several top CBS figures and executives have been fired in recent years over their treatment of staff and others.

In December 2018, the CBS board of directors declined to pay former CEO Les Moonves a $120 million severance package after his departure over sexual misconduct.

That same year, “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager was removed for similar allegations. In 2017, CBS News ousted Charlie Rose for allegations of sexual misconduct.

All three men have denied the allegations against them.

Updated Thursday at 2:41 p.m.

Tags abuse allegations CBS News Charlie Rose media racism allegations Television
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