- Executives Peter Dunn and David Friend have both left CBS, the network told Insider.
- They had been suspended in January pending an investigation into their conduct. They deny wrongdoing.
- Five women told the LA Times that Dunn and Friend were hostile at work and blocked attempts to hire Black journalists.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Two top executives are leaving CBS following a two-month suspension, after former colleagues claimed the pair created a hostile work environment and blocked efforts to hire Black journalists.
Peter Dunn, who was president of the network’s Television Stations Group, and David Friend, who was the group’s senior vice president of news, were suspended in January pending an investigation, after the Los Angeles Times published a report about their conduct at work.
Dunn and Friend have now left the network, CBS told Insider on Thursday. The LA Times first reported that George Cheeks, the CEO of CBS Entertainment Group, announced the departures in a memo to staff on Wednesday.
The investigation is still ongoing. Both Dunn and Friend deny any wrongdoing.
In the original LA Times report, a former Philadelphia news director, Margaret Cronan, said that Friend belittled her during a meeting of senior executives, asking whether she was “a [expletive] idiot.”
Cronan and four others also said that Dunn and Friend blocked attempts to both hire and retain Black journalists.
And according to a former general manager quoted by the Times, Dunn said a Black TV anchor working at a CBS station was “just a jive guy.”
CBS said in its statement to Insider that “Peter Dunn, President of the CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, Senior Vice President of News for the Stations group, will not return to their positions and will be leaving the company.
“CBS is committed to a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken when necessary,” it said.
It added that its investigation was still ongoing. The Times reported that dozens of current and former executives have already spoken to investigators.
Dunn’s attorney, Larry Hutcher, told Insider that Dunn’s termination was not for-cause, and that the company would continue to pay him under his contract.
“Peter 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, told Insider that “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.”
He said that Friend was confident the investigation would prove that the accusations were false. Friend hadn’t been interviewed yet during the investigation, Pohl said.
Pohl added that Friend has worked to “promote diversity in CBS’s newsrooms and in its newscasts” and that Friend was “confident” the investigation would find he is “a tough but fair boss.”
CBS told Insider that while it wouldn’t comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, “it is clear to us that this action is appropriate and necessary at this time.”
Byron Rubin would run the Television Station Group and Kim Godwin would oversee the news operations while the company looked for new permanent leadership, CBS said.
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