CBS’s Gayle King: ‘CBS Hasn’t Handled’ Sex Allegations Very Well

CBS has been, once again, hit with allegations of sexism, this time at the Philadelphia affiliate. And CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King isn’t happy with her network, saying, “CBS hasn’t handled” the issue well in general. This is the same network that was rocked when her co-host, Charlie Rose, was fired in 2017 after sexual abuse allegations. After that, then-CEO Les Moonves was forced out for misconduct allegations.

This Morning co-host Anthony Mason explained, “Two CBS executives are on administrative leave while the company looks into alleged racist and sexist behavior reported by The Los Angeles Times. Peter Dunn, the CBS television station’s president and David Friend, Senior vice president of the news for the stations were suspended pending a full investigation by parent company Viacom/CBS.” 

Reporter Jericka Duncan added, “According to allegations laid out in The Los Angeles Times investigation, Peter Dunn’s management was hostile, racist and crude.” 

 

 

Los Angeles Times reporter Meg James wrote in the paper: “CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn and a top lieutenant cultivated a hostile work environment that included bullying female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists.” 

Duncan explained the allegations and related the problematic history the network has had with sexual issues over the last few years: 

And according to the Times report, Dunn allegedly objected to extending the contract of Rachel Solomon, who is Ethiopian, and who had replaced Thomas, because, quote, “I hate her face.” In a statement to the Times, Friend said, “These comments I have made about our employees or prospective hires were only based on performance or qualification. Not about anyone’s race or gender.” 

Former CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose was terminated over sexual harassment allegations in 2017, allegations which he denied. After his firing, CBS began an investigation into workplace culture, allowing employees to share any stories of alleged harassment. A subsequent investigation eventually led to the firing of then-chairman and CBS CEO Les Moonves who denies all allegations of misconduct. 

King vented about CBS, closing the segment by admitting, “But we haven’t  handled it well. CBS hasn’t handled it well.” 

It’s another one of those times where I feel like we’ve been here before. I’m sick of it and sickened by it. The more you hear the worse it gets. I’m glad The Los Angeles Times did the story. I’m glad that we are talking about it. We’re not running from it. But we haven’t handled it well. We have to own up to it. CBS hasn’t handled it well and hopefully now things will change. It’s very, very, very upsetting to me. 

King previously expressed annoyance about having to cover the sexual abuse allegations against Rose. On May 3, 2018, she scolded, “I don’t know what to say about this…. I don’t know what more we can do to Charlie Rose except a public flogging. He’s gone…. I’m sick of handling it.” 

Speaking of the man who allegedly exposed himself to multiple women, grabbed them, and made sexual comments, the co-host still called him a friend: “When the story first broke, I said Charlie was my friend. I still consider him a friend. I know that’s probably not the politically correct thing to say at this moment. But I don’t believe in abandoning people when they’re down.” 

The next day, under pressure, she reversed course and concluded, “Let the chips fall where they may.” Norah O’Donnell, who was a This Morning co-host and is now the anchor of the CBS Evening News, told the Hollywood Reporter in 2018 that Rose would have “screamed at me” if I confronted him about harassment. 

Kudos to CBS on Tuesday for at least reporting on themselves and not hiding the ongoing controversy. 

A transcript of the segment is below. Click “expand” to read more. 

CBS This Morning
1/26/2021

7:14 AM ET 

ANTHONY MASON: Two CBS executives are on administrative leave while the company looks into alleged racist and sexist behavior reported by the Los Angeles Times. Peter Dunn, the CBS television station’s president and David Friend, Senior Vice President of the news for the stations were suspended pending a full investigation by parent company Viacom/CBS. Our national correspondent jericka Duncan has the details. 

JERICKA DUNCAN: According to allegations laid out in The Los Angeles Times investigation, Peter Dunn’s management was hostile, racist and crude. According to legal papers obtained by the L.A. Times from a former employee of our Philadelphia station KYW-TV, Dunn referred to veteran reporter Ukee Washington, who is Black, as jive. Another former employee echoed that claim. Dunn allegedly disparaged Washington often according to the L.A. Times and would say that, quote, “all he does is dance.” In a statement on air last night, KYW sportscaster Don Bell responded. 

DON BELL: Our Ukee Washington is the most hard working, authentic caring skilled journalist. 
Ukee is our quarterback. He is the crown jewel of Philly. 

DUNCAN: But the allegedly harmful rhetoric did not stop with Dunn. According to claims in the Times report, his lieutenant, Senior Vice President David Friend also disparaged colleagues. He was allegedly critical when KYW hired journalist Brook Thomas as a morning anchor in 2016. Former Mews Director Margaret Cronin described just to the L.A. Times a phone call with Friend on Thomas’s second day on air as just venom and profanity. He screamed, “Tell her to shut the f-up.” Thomas, who is Black, was let go just months later.  

BROOKE THOMAS: We have spent the last two weeks together for the last two years. 

DUNCAN: And according to the Times report, Dunn allegedly objected to extending the contract of Rachel Solomon, who is Ethiopian, and who had replaced Thomas, because, quote, “I hate her face.” In a statement to the Times, Friend said, “These comments I have made about our employees or prospective hires were only based on performance or qualification. Not about anyone’s race or gender.” 

Former CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose was terminated over sexual harassment allegations in 2017, allegations which he denied. After his firing, CBS began an investigation into workplace culture, allowing employees to share any stories of alleged harassment. A subsequent investigation eventually led to the firing of then-chairman and CBS CEO Les Moonves who denies all allegations of misconduct. Allegations against Peter Dunn came up during investigations into workplace culture in 2019. 

Former KYW manager Brian Kennedy said Dunn fired him for cooporating with the investigation. CBS released a statement to the L.A. Times this week saying they haven’t had any complaints against Dunn since. On Sunday night, CBS entertainment group George cheeks met with leadership with the National Association of Black Journalists. Afterwards, NABJ said in a statement that “for the company’s culture to be transformed, it must begin with the firing of Dunn and Friend.” In an internal e-mail Monday, cheeks promised to foster and maintain a positive inclusive workplace. The network also committed to an independent investigation of the allegations raised in the Times and said is it would take appropriate action in a public statement announcing Dunn and Friend’s suspensions. For CBS this morning, Jericka Duncan. 

MASON: In his public statement, George cheeks said, “CBS is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace where all voices are heard. Claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken where necessary.” We’ve reached out to Peter Dunn and David Friend for comment but have not heard back. 

GAYLE KING: It’s another one of those times where I feel like we’ve been here before. I’m sick of it and sickened by it. The more you hear the worse it gets. I’m glad The Los Angeles Times did the story. I’m glad that we are talking about it. We’re not running from it. But we haven’t handled it well. We have to own up to it. CBS hasn’t handled it well and hopefully now things will change. It’s very, very, very upsetting to me. 

MASON: The L.A. Times story is very upsetting. 

KING: It is. It is. We can do better and we are better than this and actions speak louder than words. 

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