CBS opens investigation into racist and sexist behavior by local television executives – Deadline

Four days after CBS put two of its local television executives on administrative leave for alleged racist and sexist conduct, the ViacomCBS-owned company launched an external investigation into the potentially damning case.

“We are committed to creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive corporate culture for all members of our CBS and ViacomCBS community,” Entertainment Group boss George Cheeks said in an email to staff today. by CBS Stations (read the full correspondence below)

Proskauer Rose partner Keisha-Ann Gray was “hired” by CBS to lead the investigation, Cheeks revealed. This all comes from an LA Times article published last week which states in detail that CBS TV Stations President Peter Dunn and Senior Vice President, News David Friend “cultivated a hostile work environment that included the intimidation of female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain black journalists. . Dunn was also said to have used racist language towards well-respected CBS Philadelphia news anchor Ukee Washington.

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These latest allegations come after years where CBS has been repeatedly accused of tolerating and covering up such behavior within the walls of its White Boy’s Club. In the #MeToo era, the spotlight has turned again and again to the seemingly predatory behavior of former CEO Les Moonves towards repeat showrunners acting abysmally towards women and people of color. There have also been reports of abusive behavior in divisions such as CBS News by senior officials, as well as sexual harassment lawsuits against former CBS Morning co-host Charlie Rose and secret awards and more in the hierarchy and in various divisions of society. .

On several occasions when the cases became public, outside lawyers like Proskauer Rose were recruited. In fact, the company looked at the CBS News claims several years ago and became involved in the Moonves investigation at a later date. Some of the claims about longtime CBS executives Dunn and Friend were said to have come to light during the Moonves investigation three years ago, but have apparently never been addressed in any meaningful way, according to a well-placed source.

In cases such as the Moonves investigation and others, there were concerns that lawyers would still be separated from their payers. The repercussions were generally feared by the employees who spoke.

A state of affairs Cheeks, in his first such crisis, sought to appease today.

“I also understand that some employees are often reluctant to come forward and share their concerns, but I assure you that your voice will be heard and that we will act on the results of the investigation both promptly and appropriately,” said Cheeks to the staff. Friday in the last business response to the allegations.

“To be clear: our company takes any allegation of misconduct very seriously, which is why we moved quickly to hire an external investigator to conduct a review of this matter,” added Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS, in a note. guide that was circulated widely in society on Friday. “Most importantly, we encourage employees to participate in the survey by coming forward to share their concerns,” Bakish noted.

“Please know that we prohibit any retaliation against an employee who does the right thing by speaking out,” Bakish also said in what is a clear hope of effectively dealing with this latest round of complaints. “Your participation is essential in our efforts to create a safe and inclusive workplace for all.”

Dunn and Friend were put on leave on January 25. At that point, CBS said they were going to open a third-party investigation.

“It is clear that there is a huge problem among the stations owned and operated by CBS, and for the culture of the company to be transformed, it has to start with the firing of Dunn and Friend,” L said earlier. ‘National Association of Black Journalists. this week after meeting CBS.

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