Don Campion and colleagues are calling out CBS for discrimination.
On January 26, Champion, a freelance journalist who formerly worked for CBS, posted to Facebook his experiences with discrimination under the news media company.
“This is my CBS story,” Don Champion began. “I can honestly say I’ve never been discriminated against in the way David Friend and Peter Dunn did me at WCBS-TV. Even before I started, my agent warned me, ‘be careful, you’re gay, Black and a man. David doesn’t like any of those.’ I still question how I got in the door at CBS 2 News- in the end, I think it was fate.”
ViacomCBS is currently in the midst of widespread allegations of mistreatment in several of its TV stations. This includes allegations of racism and misogyny at CBS’ Philadelphia TV station and WCBS-TV Channel 2 in New York. Then, CBS hired law firm Proskauer Rose to investigate conduct by CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn and David Friend, his lieutenant in charge of local news, according to the Lost Angeles Times.
For Don Champion, the news that CBS was under investigation for discrimination was unsurprising. Champion shares that despite working diligently in his first few weeks of being on the job, he got the complaint from David Friend that he needed to work on his “on-air presence” and “voice.” After getting a voice coach, and hearing the coach’s confusion at what the problem was, Champion realized the real problem was that he was “too gay.” Champion then says that he later got the complaint of gaining too much weight.
“My life and career were under the control of a bigot,” he continued. “After live shots, I’d get emails from David complaining about little things like a fumbled word on-air. One time, he embarrassed me by berating me loudly in the middle of the newsroom- I truly forget what for. It was so loud and unprofessional that an anchor called me in their office afterward pissed at what they had witnessed.”
Champion says the discrimination didn’t stop there or even after he transferred stations. At CBS Newspath, Champion was told to “butch it up” and to stop “queening out.” Don Champion then shares that eventually, he lost more supporters in the workplace and was let go in 2017 because he “wasn’t [his superior’s] style.”
Overwhelmed by the response today. Thank you for all the words of support- I truly appreciate it. I spoke up for my former colleagues who are still in fear and for all those in news who can't talk. The reckoning needs to continue.
— Don Champion (@DonChampionTV) January 27, 2021
In response to Don Champion and other Black journalist’s allegations against CBS, the company released a statement. In it, they state their desire to look at the situation internally.
“Important issues are being raised by internal and external voices,” CBS said in the statement on Monday, February 1. “We have initiated an external investigation into the allegations of misconduct by CBS Stations leadership. At the same time, senior management at both CBS and ViacomCBS have communicated their support for current and former employees to raise any relevant concerns without fear of retaliation. Our employees deserve a process rooted in transparency, respect and accountability as we build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive culture in every corner of CBS.”
Then in response to requests from Yahoo! Life, an attorney for David Friend said their client “declines to respond to every false insinuation and suggestion, from Mr. Champion.” The attorney then alleged that Champion’s statements are “based on nothing but conjecture.” Dunn, meanwhile, has not commented on the situation and allegations.
Both men have been placed on leave as the allegations and investigations continue.
This isn’t enough. This is the very weak response from CBS that’s enabled these men to become the monsters they are. https://t.co/iJZCVvNGvb
— Don Champion (@DonChampionTV) January 26, 2021