Ex-CBS reporter claims discrimination, says he was reprimanded for ‘queening out’
Don Champion shared a photo recalling 'horrible memories of being bullied and discriminated against for being a gay Black man.'
As two outside law firms are investigating sexual misconduct claims at CBS that came to light in 2018, a Black journalist who worked at the New York affiliate is sharing his story in a lengthy Facebook post.
“This is my CBS story,” Don Champion began as he shared a picture of himself reporting on the job, saying the photo makes him proud to have been a news reporter in New York City, but also that it brings back “horrible memories of being bullied and discriminated against for being a gay Black man.”
“I can honestly say I’ve never been discriminated against in the way David Friend and Peter Dunn did me at WCBS-TV,” Champion said. He maintained that he was warned before even starting the job that he would experience intimidation by the men.
Champion contends that when he started in the role, he was immediately bullied and intimidated, and the stress caused him to develop eczema. He said he was criticized for his “on-air presence” and “voice.” Champion said that with the help of a voice coach, he realized that the criticism was coded language for being “too gay.”
A Los Angeles Times report recently revealed a number of Black employees complained about Dunn creating a hostile work environment. Despite the allegations and a two-year investigation, Dunn is still employed at as CBS Television stations president.
“What was that whole investigation about? Was it just for show?” asked Marty Wilke, former general manager at CBS’ Chicago affiliate. “The culture starts and stops with Peter Dunn.”
Friend, with whom Dunn reportedly works closely, is senior vice president for news for CBS-owned stations.
Network officials told the newspaper it “is committed to ensuring an inclusive and respectful work environment for all its employees. In response to a CBS investigation in early 2019, senior management at the time addressed the situation with Mr. Dunn, and the company has not received any complaints about his conduct during the period since then.”
Champion said that after a year and a half at WCBS, he was targeted for his weight, frequently berated for small mistakes and that his freelance work hours fluctuated, affecting his pay.
At CBS Newspath, he said, a manager told Champion he needed to “butch it up” on air. He also got complaints that he was “queening out” during live shots.
His experience with the company “upended” his life, Champion claimed, and “ruined” his career. He was offered a position in 2019 but did not accept it, given his past experiences.
Champion ended his post saying that he has regrets. He wishes he had sued the company and that he had stood up for himself more.
“It’s taken a lot of work to heal, though,” he said. “A dream and years of hard work stolen from me by blatant bigotry — and the sad part is there are countless other stories.”