Search form

Scroll To Top

Former CBS Reporter Don Champion Told to 'Butch It Up,' Speaks Out

Former CBS Freelancer Don Champion Calls for Moment of Change in News

“There's a lot of toxicity in the business and it needs to be rooted out,” the freelancer tells Out.

When freelancer Don Champion wrote a post to Facebook describing his experiences at WCBS TV and CBS Newspath beginning in 2013, he was just trying to share his story. In the post, he reported being discriminated against and "bullied" by bosses at WCBS, causing so much stress that he developed eczema. While there, compliants were allegedly also made about his voice, presence, and weight. He eventually left for Newspath he was told to "butch it up," and received complaints of "queening out" during liveshots. His post was aimed at bringing awareness to the problems of racism and homphobia he experienced. But with the widespread support, this could prove a turning point.

"My hope is that this is truly a moment of change for TV news," Champion tells Out via email. "There's a lot of toxicity in the business and it needs to be rooted out."

Champion worked as a freelancer for WCBS-TV starting in 2013 before later moving to CBS Newspath. In his original Facebook post he described an bouillabaisse of bigotry, racism, and homophobia from executives David Friend and Peter Dunn taking the form of constant and sometimes very public criticism of everything from alleged weight gains to his "presence" and "voice." He said French finally cut off the freelance work after a year and a half despite words of support from anchors and coworkers at the station. Sadly, the bigotry continued when he moved to CBS Newspath, where he was told by a manager to "butch it up" and stop "queening out" on-air. A separate report in the Los Angeles Times noted allegations of racism and misogyny elsewhere within CBS and specifically against President Peter Dunn. Champion eventually left CBS for good in 2017, although the station did contact him 2019 to offer him a job (he turned it down).

Champion has learned from his experiences, telling Out he is a "firm believer that everything happens for a reason" even though "leaving news was incredibly painful." He says one of the things that has saddened him most since going public is the amount of similar stories he's heard from others who reached out to him.

"This is not okay and I can't help but think how many other careers have been ruined by this discrimination and bigotry," he says.

For now, Champion says he's happy where he's at in the tech industry and doesn't see himself getting back into news. Instead, he's thankful he's had the chance to reinvent himself after his ordeal at CBS. He also is grateful for the "show of support" he's received since going public with his story.

"I wasn't expecting this response, and I've been overwhelmed by the countless messages from people who have endured similar situations," he tells Out.

RELATED | This News Anchor Was Attacked for Being Gay, Police Say

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Donald Padgett