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Two top CBS execs leave network amid investigation of toxic work culture

Two top TV executives at CBS have left the network two months after being suspended for allegations that they created a toxic work culture which included racist and misogynistic behavior.

CBS placed Peter Dunn, president of CBS television stations, and David Friend, senior vice president of news for television stations, on leave in January following a Los Angeles Times investigation that included allegations that Dunn disparaged female and Black employees. Friend also allegedly supported the behavior and was accused of verbal abuse.

At the time, CBS said the allegations detailed in The Times are being investigated by a third-party. On Wednesday, the network told CNN Business that the investigation is “ongoing.”

Dunn and Friend “will not return to their positions and will be leaving the Company,” CBS said in a statement Wednesday. “On an interim basis, Bryon Rubin will continue to run the Stations group while Kim Godwin will continue her oversight of Stations’ news operations until new leadership is in place.”

The Times first reported the news, citing an internal memo from CBS Entertainment Group CEO George Cheeks.

Dunn managed CBS’ 28 TV stations, which together employ 2,800 workers, since 2009, according to The Times.

“We are thankful to those who have shared their experiences and knowledge with the investigators thus far,” the statement continued. “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.”

For The Times’ January investigation, Dunn declined to comment on the allegations.

Dunn’s attorney, Larry Hutcher, said in a statement shared with CNN Business that CBS is still paying Dunn.

“While CBS has stated it has terminated Peter, it is not for-cause, and they continue to pay him under his contract,” Hutcher said.

“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 said in a statement for The Times’ January investigation that CBS has “a strong track record” of hiring and supporting women and people of color. “These comments I may have made about our employees or prospective hires were only based on performance or qualifications — not about anyone’s race or gender,” he said.

Friend’s attorney, David Pohl, told CNN Business in a statement that Friend’s separation came “without any finding that he engaged in the misconduct alleged. That critical fact should be reported accurately. After two months, the investigation is ongoing — David has yet to be interviewed — and he is confident that, when it concludes, the accusations will be proven false.”

CNN Newsource

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