CBS Announces Peter Dunn, David Friend Will Not Be Returning As Investigation Continues

CBS Stations President Peter Dunn and Senior Vice President of News David Friend will not be returning to the company. They were placed on administrative leave in January after accusations of alleged racist, homophobic and sexist behavior; CBS2's Alice Gainer reports.

Video Transcript

DICK BRENNAN: We have an update in the investigation into CBS Stations President Peter Dunn and Senior Vice President of News David Friend. Back in January they were placed on administrative leave after accusations of alleged racist, homophobic, and sexist behavior.

JESSICA MOORE: Just this afternoon, it was announced they are not returning. CBS2's Alice gator reports.

ALICE GAINER: In an email to employees, President and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group George Cheeks wrote, "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." Adding, "I want to be very clear that the external investigation is not over and will continue."

Following a January "Los Angeles Times" story alleging sexism, racism, and homophobia by CBS executives Dunn and Friend, the two, who ran 28 local CBS stations, were placed on administrative leave. The article focused largely on CBS Station KYW TV in Philadelphia, reviewing allegations that Dunn and Friend, "cultivated a hostile work environment that included bullying female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists."

According to administrative filings obtained by the "LA Times," anchor Ukee Washington, a 30-year veteran at KYW, was a victim of Dunn's disparaging insults. Former employees told the "Times," Dunn frequently belittled Washington, referring to him as, quote, "just a jive guy." He's also accused of calling one morning anchor candidate too gay for Philadelphia. Friend, Dunn's right-hand man, also the news director for WCBS in New York, was accused of being verbally abusive in the workplace. Don Champion, a former CBS freelance reporter, told CBS back in January he was warned of problems at WCBS TV before starting in 2013.

DON CHAMPION: My agent warned me, be careful. You're gay, Black, and a man.

ALICE GAINER: Champion wondered--

DON CHAMPION: How many other lives and careers they've ruined. I mean, these are two very, very powerful men in the TV news industry.

ALICE GAINER: CBS internally investigated Dunn in 2019, and said back in January, "senior management at the time addressed the situation with him, but had not had new complaints since then." Today, Peter Dunn's attorney said, "we are disappointed in the ruling but CBS has not found any wrongdoing in relation to Peter Dunn. The termination is without cause and Peter continues to be paid according to his contract. We hope that in the future he will be fully exonerated." This afternoon, CBS said, "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.

Both men oversaw WCBS TV here in New York, and again, the investigation is ongoing. And attorney for David Friend has not gotten back to us today, but in a prior statement, Friend told the "Times" comments about employees or prospective hires were only based on performance or qualifications, not about race or gender. We will keep you updated. Dick and Jessica?

JESSICA MOORE: Thanks Alice.

DICK BRENNAN: Thanks very much.