Friday, June 22, 2007

CBS Eye on Homophobia?

Here's a story you won't see Katie Couric's minions plagiarizing for her next vlog entry: kenneth in the (212) has learned exclusively that ratings-challenged CBS News is being slapped with a $50 million sexual-orientation discrimination lawsuit by 18-year veteran producer Richard "Dick" Jefferson, who alleges in a shocking 30-page legal document that he was fired for speaking out about being gay-bashed in St. Martin last year -- an attack that left him and a co-worker nearly dead.

After recovering from the Caribbean tire wrench to the head delivered by a street thug known as EverReady Duracell, Jefferson -- an Emmy-honored senior producer who counts Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather as admirers of his work -- found the authorities back in St. Martin were more interested in sweeping the attack under the rug (to protect the island's tourism industry, no doubt) than in making an arrest, so he began to step up the pressure on them. It was at this point, Jefferson, who had a titanium plate put in his skull in order to recover, alleges that CBS News Senior Vice President Linda Mason began issuing a series of orders to control his public comments about his personal vacation nightmare. Jefferson says senior CBS News executives had decided that because of its "sensitive nature," the assault was too "controversial." (The suit also names Patricia Shevlin, executive producer of CBS News Weekend Editions.)

"I thought I was in the Twilight Zone. I was back at work and simply seeking justice. You can get attacked by a bunch of thugs anywhere, but the St. Martin police turned their heads -- not because we were gay, but because we were tourists. I thought I was doing the right thing, but CBS made me feel like I was doing something wrong," Jefferson said.

Jefferson says he complied with all the orders, but eventually complained asking Mason -- who is the News Division's executive in charge of enforcing the company's anti-discrimination policies -- if she would do the same thing if an African American employee had been attacked, or a woman raped. Jefferson says Mason exploded in anger, "Are you accusing me of discrimination?" Shoving her chair away from the desk, Jefferson says she quickly spun back, and sternly reminded him that she "makes the rules here" and that it was her job to "protect CBS News." Jefferson says Mason's rules included controlling what he wrote in his e-mail messages from his personal account, requiring him to ask for permission to testify in open court against his attackers (they were eventually caught and convicted) and banning him from having contact with his friend and colleague, Ryan Smith, who was still hospitalized from the attack, or his family.

When he first complained about the corporate interference in his personal life, Jefferson says Mason warned him that she could force him to take a leave of absence -- which would cause him to lose not only pay but critical health care insurance -- if he continued to pursue his "gay rights" cause. After his complaint of discrimination, Jefferson says Mason embarked on a retaliation campaign. Within weeks, she attempted to terminate his contract. Failing her first attempt, he says she began a fishing expedition, and built a fraudulent case against him, placed him on probation and then ultimately fired him.

"Surgeons repaired the damage the criminals did," Jefferson said. "Now, it is time to ease the pain and suffering CBS News executives inflicted. I felt like I was attacked again."

Dick files the suit on Monday. Stayed tuned.

10 comments:

Castle of Stink said...

What a horror story! I wish him good luck. If this gets settled out of court, one condition should definitely be Mason's termination.

Marc said...

You mean that corporate America is run by soulless gargoyles who crush human lives for the sake of quarterly revenues? Yup, I guess so. Even if just half of these allegations are true, it gives CBS a real black eye. Hit 'em hard, Dick!

noj said...

Terrible story! Wouldn't it be great if they were forced to interview him on "60 Minutes" and expose his boss as the ignorant ass she is?!

Anonymous said...

Very disturbing. I wish Mr. Jefferson healing.

Anonymous said...

We are behing you Dick!

Yvon Thivierge said...

How more homophobic your country is compared to mine! If this horrific antigay rights incident had occurred in Canada, the plaintiff would be back at work with a substantial compensation package from his accused evil employers because discrimination, especially firing, based on a person's sexual orientation is prohibited across the land.

jimbonsf said...

CBS has never been receptive to the realities of gay life, but has been interested in biased news and stories that serve its own corporate interests: profits. Check out the infamous homophobic hit-piece that CBS released in 1980, "Gay Power, Gay Politics". This awful 'documentary' was fomented by bigoted straights living on and near San Francisco's beautiful Buena Vista Park, after a huge building was converted to condos, and the new residents were aghast to discover gay men in *their* park. The hit piece signalled the beginning of an aggressive and intensely negative attitude assumed by CBS that continues nearly 30 years later.

Daryll said...

I bet the witch who tormented this guy is a gay Republican (ala Tammy Bruce). These freaks seem to hate your average gay person the most, especially if they speak out.

Anonymous said...

All of us need to bombard CBS with emails, letters, phone calls protesting the bigotry and a threat to boycott all programming.

Robert, NYC>

Anonymous said...

Mason is a pig. CBS is a joke. Two and a Half Men? 48 Hours Mystery? How I Met Your Mother? Do I really need to go on?

"60 Minutes" can fuck itself.

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