“And that’s the way it is.” – Walter Cronkite, CBS News anchor 1961-1982
Those words were, for most Americans, synonymous with CBS News for a span of decades that saw historic, tumultuous events, from the assassination of a sitting U.S. president and the Apollo moon mission to Vietnam and Watergate and everything in between.
“That’s the way it is.”
It’s a simple philosophy, really – communicate and retell the facts of a news story in a way that can be widely understood. When it came to executing this mission, CBS News was arguably the gold standard as recently as half a century ago. It may as well have been millennia.
Mr. Cheeks, in a recent email you stated that CBS’ “external investigation into allegations of misconduct by leadership at the Stations group has concluded”1, which you said included “painful revelations about experiences that we cannot tolerate today or in the future.”
As someone who has repeatedly been the target of religious discrimination and other misconduct at the hands of CBS Los Angeles’ management team, I can unequivocally characterize your summary statement as incomplete and misleading – at best.
When I began my career at CBS Radio in 2006, I could have never anticipated the staggering changes that would occur in our world and our industry, not least of which was the growth of the internet from a CBS afterthought into the primary form of media consumed by billions across the globe.
But equally surprising is the sharp and rapid rise of an increasingly aggressive anti-Christian “cancel culture” within the ranks of CBS itself, starting at the very top and filtering downward.
Sometime around 2011 or so, things began to change, slowly at first and then gradually accelerating in speed and visibility.
And yet time and again, whenever race, religion or sex/gender identity came up, I came to understand through messaging from both corporate policies and individual managers that as a Christian male that happened to be both White and heterosexual, my identity was to take a backseat to those around me.
Under your messaging, Mr. Cheeks, this anti-White rhetoric accelerated as part of an overall corporate communications strategy that included support of the overtly Marxist group “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) and promotion of content and/or advocates of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT), a discriminatory and repugnant racist ideology that essentially demonizes people of one particular skin color as morally inferior.
CBS Standards has even adopted style guidance based on what BLM deems to be “preferable” language. On June 1, 2020, you sent out a company-wide email aligning the ViacomCBS corporate platform with the values of BLM and the message of “racial justice”.
Far from being a civil rights organization, BLM openly espouses a radical agenda that ultimately seeks to replace the most fundamental building block of both our society — the family – with the state and transform the economic structure of the United States of America.2
Until recently, BLM openly stated as much on their website. Earlier this year, the BLM Utah chapter described anyone who flies the American flag as “racist”, calling it a “symbol of hatred.”
This is the same group whose New York president Hawk Newsome threatened: “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation.”
Does CBS stand in solidarity with “values” and threats such as these, Mr. Cheeks? According to corporate communications that were distributed company-wide – some of which bearing your name – the answer is unequivocally “Yes”.