CBS Executives Placed On Leave After Allegations Of Racist, Sexist Behavior

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Two CBS executives have been placed on administrative leave by the company after misconduct allegations were raised in a Los Angeles Times report.

“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 wrote in a public statement on Monday evening.

The allegations come after issues at the network in 2018 prompted the hiring of outside counsel who investigated sexual misconduct accusations against former chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves. Despite these investigations, former employees allege that incidents, particularly involving Dunn and Friend, continued. (RELATED: Insiders React To Allegations Against CBS CEO Les Moonves)

Margaret Cronan, a former news director at CBS3, and Brien Kennedy, a former president and general manager of CBS3, told the LA Times that Dunn repeatedly made remarks about CBS3 news anchor Ukee Washington. Both accused Dunn of using the word “jive” while describing Washington and Cronan expressed shock at how he allegedly discussed the anchor, according to the LA Times.

“I was shocked that a corporate head would use words like that to describe an African American,” Cronan said according to the report. “Besides, Ukee was such a valuable asset to viewers and internally to our team. I couldn’t believe Peter Dunn would even be questioning his performance.”

In another incident, Dunn allegedly wondered aloud whether a possible incoming anchor was “too gay for Philadelphia,” Cronan said. After the team hired Brooke Thomas, a black woman, to co-anchor a morning show, Friend allegedly quickly lost it.

“It was just immediate screaming on the phone, not constructive criticism — just venom and profanity,” Cronan said, recalling an allegedly “angry call from Friend” that she received the day after the show’s debut.

In an alleged email reviewed by the LA Times, Friend continued with the criticism, demanding Thomas “stop shouting, stop talking in a fake Southern accent and stop sucking the air out of the show,” according to the report. Cronan also said she saw racist incidents and was subject to verbal insults while at the company – Kennedy backed up one such example, the LA Times reported.

Friend denied that his actions were racist in a statement to the LA Times. Dunn did not comment regarding the allegations.

“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 report. “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.”

Despite this, multiple black journalists formally at KYW, a former partner of CBS3, also levied accusations “of unequal treatment and racist comments” at the news station, the LA Times reported. Dunn and Friend allegedly tried to block black journalists from being hired, according to the report.

CBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller.