January 26, 2021

CBS TV Executives on Leave After Disparaging Remarks Made Towards CBS3's Anchor Ukee Washington and Other Black Anchors Surface

Ukee Washington, a long time news anchor at CBS 3 KYW-TV in Philadelphia was targeted by one CBS TV executive with remarks that were described by colleagues at the company as racist. The NABJ has called for the firing of those executives. The full story appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The writer, Meg James reveals she talked to at least 25 former and current staffers at CBS News for her story.

Peter Dunn, president of CBS television stations, and David Friend, the senior vice president of news for TV stations are being accused of creating a hostile work environment, making racist comments about Black employees, and making inappropriate comments about female employees. CBS TV has placed both men on leave pending an investigation by a third party.

CBS This Morning report from Jericka Duncan. (She was a former reporter at CBS 3 from 2010-2013.)

The NABJ (the National Association of Black Journalists) met with CBS on Sunday about the allegations of racism and misconduct at the network. Peter Dunn, who is white, was singled out as blocking efforts to recruit and hire more Black journalists at various stations. Dunn also referred to CBS 3 Philadelphia news anchor Ukee Washington as “just a jive guy. “Peter would say: ‘All he does is dance … dancing, dancing,’” veteran general manager Brien Kennedy recalled in an interview with the L.A. Times.This account was supported by Margaret Cronan who left her position as news director of KYW-TV Channel 3 in 2017 due to the environment.

“He’s not doing that ‘jive-talking’ anymore? Sometimes, he’s just not speaking my language,” Cronan recalled Dunn saying in the meeting, which was attended by several people.


“I was shocked that a corporate head would use words like that to describe an African American,” Cronan said. “Besides, Ukee was such a valuable asset to viewers and internally to our team. I couldn’t believe Peter Dunn would even be questioning his performance.”

Dunn and Friend made disparaging remarks about morning anchors Brooke Thomas and Rahel Solomon (who replaced Thomas) in the report from L.A. Times. Following Thomas' debut in April 2016, Friend's actions were the following: “It was just immediate screaming on the phone, not constructive criticism — just venom and profanity,” Cronan said. “He screamed: ‘Tell her to shut the [expletive] up,’” in reference to Thomas. Friend followed up with an email, also reviewed by The L.A. Times: “Can you please tell her to stop shouting, stop talking in a fake Southern accent and stop sucking the air out of the show.” Dunn sent an email after Thomas' second day on air that stated, "Unwatchable." Friend met with Cronan and said Brooke Thomas had to be terminated.

Rahel Solomon, a Philadelphia native and the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants was also subject to racist remarks. Kennedy said he asked Dunn for months to extend Solomon’s contract, but during a two-hour-plus phone call to discuss the matter, Kennedy said Dunn raised “bizarre objections,” such as saying, “I hate her face.”

The NABJ is calling for CBS to cancel non disclosure agreements they have with their employees in order for a full investigation of the company's practices over the years can be conducted. The hiring practice and workplace environment apparently are not just limited to the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia. New York's CBS2 also has a less than stellar track record with hiring African American reporters and anchors as well as behind the scene producers. Black news directors and executives are non-existent throughout CBS. 

Ukee Washington has garnered much support from colleagues and viewers.

Ukee Washington has earned the respect of many television viewers in Philadelphia as a sports anchor in 1986, transitioning to morning news, and then evening news anchor since 2015. He's been at the station for 35 years.

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