Derek Dalton, president and general manager of WBBM-Channel 2 was ousted Thursday from his position, as part of the pruning of top management at CBS-owned stations in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
This followed a six-month investigation into alleged wrong-doing within CBS’ stations group Robert Feder reports.
The moves continue an impressive management makeover at CBS News and the network’s stations division in the wake of a Los Angeles Times investigation, which uncovered alleged misconduct, racism and misogyny at a handful of CBS-owned stations.
CBS’ reforms come after years of complaints about its treatment of minorities and women. The Rev. Jesse Jackson led a 1986 boycott after CBS’ Chicago station demoted a legendary Black anchor. In 2000, the company paid $8 million to settle a landmark case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency found that women at six CBS stations, faced a hostile environment that included sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining.
CBS has not disclosed the reasons behind Dalton’s departure, but the move was related to the external investigation that has been underway since The LA Times’ report in late January.
Dalton replaced Marty Wilke as president and general manager of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2018 after she stepped down. When Wilke announced her “retirement” after six years at CBS, it shocked many who wondered why a 53-year-old woman would retire at the peak of her career.
Wilke reached out to investigators on Nov. 9, 2018, to ask whether CBS was waiving nondisclosure agreements to allow women to speak freely. She said she was told hers would be waived. Wilke said she began her December 2018 conversation with investigators by saying: “My goal is to change the culture for the benefit of so many good people still at the company.”
Wilke said she was forced out by Peter Dunn after the two repeatedly clashed. After she left, nearly all the senior female executives in Chicago that Wilke had championed were driven out, she and others said.
In April, Peter Dunn was forced out amid allegations that he had made racially charged comments about anchors and reporters and blocked efforts to retain and promote Black journalists, among other accusations.
Dalton’s departure was confirmed in memos sent Thursday from CBS president George Cheeks and Wendy McMahon, CBS’ newly appointed president and co-head of CBS News and Stations.
As first reported by FTVLive the memo reads:
This is an important day for all of us at CBS Stations.
After six months of an extremely thorough and exhaustive review of our organization and culture, I am writing to let you know the external investigation into leadership at our Stations has concluded and, as a result, we will be seeking new general managers for our Los Angeles and Chicago stations.
I want to thank everyone who took the time to talk to the investigators. Your care and concern for your colleagues…and your courage…have enabled us to move forward.
Our future is dependent on our ability to lead the way in local news and to connect deeply with the communities we serve. Over the past weeks, I have been meeting with each of our station leadership teams, elevating content, culture and community as our priorities across CBS Stations. Our success is only possible if we come together and start rewriting the future we want for our stations now. It is only possible if leaders at every level of the organization share the same commitment…the same values and priorities.
While acknowledging the range of emotions from the past few months, today is an opportunity for all of us to look forward. George, Neeraj and I are committed to leading with transparency, respect and inclusion…to cultivating a spirit of collaboration and innovation…to doing the right thing for our united organization and teams as we reimagine our brands and businesses during a time of tremendous change.
We will begin our search for new leaders in Los Angeles and Chicago immediately and I will keep you posted as we move forward. In the meantime, I know this day may be difficult for many of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your department head, Human Resources or me if there is anything we can do to support you.