CBS’ recently opened investigation into alleged racist and sexist conduct by two of its top local TV executives is now in the spotlight of the WGA, and the guild wants a face-to-face ASAP.
“The Writers Guild of America, East has reached out to CBS regarding the investigation of misconduct by executives at local CBS television newsrooms,” the scribes’ guild said late Wednesday.
“The union made it clear to CBS that employees must be able to tell their truth to investigators without fear of retaliation from management,” the WGA East added. “Further, we asked CBS to meet with us for a contract-obligated Diversity Committee meeting.”
The insertion of the union into the sordid situation follows President of CBS Television Stations Peter Dunn and Senior Vice President, News David Friend being placed on administrative leave on January 25 after a blistering report by the LA Times.
Long time execs Dunn and Friend “cultivated a hostile work environment that included bullying female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists,” the comprehensive LAT piece said. In another issue that has rightly caused an uproar on the East Coast, it was also claimed that Dunn used racist language in regards to CBS’ well respected Philadelphia news anchor Ukee Washington.
The latter matter raised the ire of the National Association of Black Journalists. After meeting with CBS execs, the NABJ called for Dunn and Friend to be axed immediately.
That hasn’t happened yet.
However, in this latest incident at the ViacomCBS-owned company, Entertainment Group chief George Cheeks announced on January 29 that attorney Keisha-Ann Gray of law firm Proskauer Rose had been “engaged” to carry out a probe of what really went down with Dunn and Friend, and perhaps more.
“I also understand that some employees many be hesitant to come forward and share their concerns, but I assure you that your voice will be heard and that we will act on the findings of the investigation both swiftly and appropriately,” Cheeks asserted in the first such public crisis of his reign at the once Les Moonves ruled CBS.
Certainly of potential concern to some at CBS is the fact that Proskauer Rose were involved in the investigation into the various allegations of misconduct that toppled the once thought invulnerable Moonves back in 2018. In that probe and others at CBS and its productions, there were worries that the internal and external lawyers and others conducting the investigations weren’t always separate from the company paying their fees – a feeling Cheeks and ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish de facto acknowledged in their respective memos last week
A feeling that the WGA East is obviously picking up on too.
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