workplace woes

Ex-CBS reporter says he was told to “butch it up” and stop “queening out” before being fired

A former freelance reporter for CBS is speaking out about alleged abuse he suffered at the hands of network execs.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Don Champion says he experienced years of bullying, harassment, and discrimination while working for two different CBS affiliates in New York before eventually being fired for no reason.

“This is my CBS story,” he begins, before sharing about his “horrible memories of being bullied and discriminated against for being a gay Black man.”

Champion first began working for the company in 2013 and says he was warned by his agent about two execs in particular, David Friend and Peter Dunn.

“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.”

Champion goes on to allege that almost immediately he was criticized for his “on-air presence” and “voice.” After working with a vocal coach, he learned Friend felt he came across as “too gay” on television.

“My life and career were under the control of a bigot,” he continues. “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.”

After about a year and a half, Champion eventually transferred to a different CBS affiliate, where he says the abuse continued.

“Sadly, the discrimination didn’t stop at WCBS,” he writes. “At CBS Newspath, word from a manager of me needing to ‘butch it up’ on-air got to me. There was also a complaint about me ‘queening out’ during live shots.”

After speaking to a higher up about what was going on in July 2017, Champion got a call from his agent saying his contract was being abruptly terminated without any real explanation.

“Looking back, I have regrets,” he writes. “I wish I would’ve sued. I wish I would’ve stood up for myself more, but there’s so much fear involved.”

“Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I was about news and how it was my dream to be a journalist since childhood. A dream and years of hard work stolen from me by blatant bigotry and the sad part is–there are countless other stories.”

Indeed, the Los Angeles Times recently reported about a number of Black employees complaining about a hostile work environment at CBS, with many accusing Peter Dunn of being the root cause.

In a statement, the network says 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.”

Read Champion’s full post below.

This is my CBS story… I’ve reflected on this photo often in recent years. On one hand, it makes me feel proud that as…

Posted by Don Champion on Tuesday, January 26, 2021