TV journalists rank high among those I’d least like to share a foxhole with. Former ABC News correspondent David Wright learned that the hard way three years ago when he spoke the truth about his former network, unaware he was secretly being filmed by an advocacy group seeking to expose the legacy media’s liberal bias. ABC News promptly suspended Wright, and despite being among the most accomplished TV journalists of his generation, none of his colleagues made much, if any, of a fuss.

David Wright

In a discussion with someone he didn’t know was from the ethically challenged Project Veritas, Wright mistakenly admitted that he was a “socialist” who favored universal health care, reigning in corporations, and narrowing the wealth gap. He was also critical of ABC News’ coverage of President Trump: “We don’t hold him to account. We also don’t give him credit for what things he does do,” Wright said.

“It’s like there’s no upside in — or our bosses don’t see an upside — in doing the job we’re supposed to do, which is to speak truth to power and hold people to account,” Wright said, confessing he felt badly because “the truth suffers” and “voters are poorly informed.”

Wright also lamented Disney, which owns ABC, injected the company’s commercial interests into the network’s programming. “Now you can’t watch Good Morning America without there being a Disney princess or a Marvel Avenger appearing,” Wright said. “It’s all self-promotional.”

Wright was demoted upon his return from suspension, and he left ABC News the following year. Wright’s LinkedIn bio says he’s now a contributor to the PBS station in Rhode Island.

Other ABC News colleagues shared Wright’s critical views of ABC News, including Amy Robach, then co-host of the news show 20/20, who was filmed saying she had details years ago about Jeffrey Epstein’s proclivities, including his connections to Prince Andrew and former President Bill Clinton, but claimed the network killed the story because of pressure from Buckingham Palace. Then ABC News president James Goldston reportedly dined with members of the Royal Family.

Robach immediately disavowed her comments after they became public, which allowed her to keep her job. She went on to co-host GMA3, the early afternoon spinoff of GMA, but was forced out after it became public she was sleeping with the anchor she shared hosting duties with.

ABC News isn’t the only network where the lines between corporate interests and news programming are as blurry as my childhood TV, which relied on a flimsy rabbit ear antenna for reception. I’ve previously written about Comcast’s influence on its various broadcast properties, and there were allegations that NBC derailed an investigation of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein because the network was concerned about allegations of sexual wrongdoing involving Matt Laurer, then the network’s Today show anchor.

Now CBS News is under the spotlight for its firing of Catherine Herridge, an investigative reporter specializing in national security issues. Herridge was one of 20 CBS journalists who were let go as part of a bloodbath of 800 employees discarded by the network’s corporate parent Paramount, which also owns MTV, Paramount Pictures, and Comedy Central.

Nancy Phillips/Paramount

Herridge’s treatment was disgraceful and not consistent with claims made by Paramount’s Chief People Office Nancy Phillips, whose bio says is responsible for “driving the company’s human resources strategy and delivering global programs to create a positive employee experience and a culture of high performance.” According to published reports, CBS News employees are understandably angry and demoralized.

As first reported by lawyer Jonathan Turley, the network boxed up all of Herridge’s personal belongings except for her computer, notes, and files and informed her that it would decide what — if anything — would be returned to her. Given that Herridge was supposedly let go because of budget cuts, it was despicable that she wasn’t allowed to retrieve her personal belongings and leave the building with dignity, rather than be treated as if she was alleged to have engaged in wrongdoing.

That CBS would keep Herridge’s computer and files is most alarming, as they were likely chock full of information about sources who trusted her with confidential or sensitive information. It’s especially troublesome given that Herridge has defied a court order to identify the source who gave her confidential information about a Chinese American scientist who she reported was under federal investigation for alleged ties to China’s military.  

According to Charlie Gasparino, an experienced FOX Business News correspondent and New York Post columnist whose judgments I trust, Herridge, 59, is a first-rate, old-school journalist who pursued stories “without fear or favor.” Gasparino, Turley, and other others said that Herridge had reported some critical stories about Joe Biden, including a special prosecutor’s findings questioning the president’s mental acuity, the Biden family corruption scandal, and the Hunter Biden laptop.

The New York Post reported that Herridge clashed with CBS News President Ingrid Ciprián-Matthews, who has faced allegations that give considerable pause for concern.

The Post previously reported that Ciprián-Matthews, who was promoted to her current position last August after serving as executive vice president of news gathering, was accused of promoting minorities while unfairly sidelining white journalists — a “woke” and “divisive” practice that sparked multiple employee complaints and a major internal probe in 2021.


The Post said Dominican-born Ciprián-Matthews, the top-ranked woman of color at CBS News, was cleared of wrongdoing after a six-month internal probe overseen by Jennifer Gordon, who was responsible for Paramount’s “investigations and employee relations.” However, the Post, citing anonymous sources, said that Gordon’s probe was allegedly cut short, and the investigator failed to interview key witnesses before concluding that Ciprián-Matthews was simply a “bad manager” with limited resources.

Gordon appears to have been among the 800 employees fired by Paramount, as she’s posted on her LinkedIn page that she’s looking for new employment opportunities.

Given that Herridge was understood to be working on potentially harmful stories that could derail Biden’s re-election, there’s been considerable speculation in the conservative media that was the primary reason for Herridge’s firing. Gasparino said another possible reason Paramount wants to curry favor with the Biden Administration is that the ailing company is on the auction block and will need regulatory approval if it’s acquired.

That’s not reckless speculation. In 1995, CBS initially pulled a “60 Minutes” interview that featured tobacco-company whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand disclosing how his former company, Brown & Williamson, allegedly spiked its cigarettes with chemicals that enhanced the effects of cancer-causing nicotine. Corporate executives killed the interview as they were negotiating shareholder and other approvals for their $5.4 billion sale to Westinghouse Corp. 

CBS’ empty suits, who stood to make millions if the deal went through, feared a lawsuit from the tobacco giant could jeopardize the transaction. CBS ultimately aired the interview.

The Post, which is widely read by the media elite, reported that Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a “scathing” letter to Ciprián-Matthews demanding the identity of the person responsible for Herridge’s firing and the reasons her computer and files were confiscated.

Late Monday, the Post reported that CBS News returned Herridge’s files, but the publication didn’t make clear if her laptop was also given back. The Post also reported that a “high-ranking source” confirmed that neither CBS News CEO Wendy McMahon nor CBS CEO George Cheeks had anything to do with Herridge’s firing.

If the Post’s reporting is accurate, that would invariably mean that Ciprián-Matthews was responsible for Herridge’s firing or that she is president of CBS News in name only.

Herridge commands considerable admiration and respect in legacy media and advocacy circles. An example of her exemplary reporting was revealing the National Guard denied 30% of injury claims that are recommended by local commanders.

“Catherine’s candor and difficult reporting on the mistreatment of injured Air National Guard Service Members and other important DOD [Department of Defense] and VA [Veterans Affairs] issues have impacted more than a million United States Veterans,” Justice and Advocacy Group, which provides support for criminal lawyers and their clients, said in a statement reported by the New York Post.

However, the “exclusive” story Herridge reported with two other reporters that’s led an Obama-appointed judge to demand she reveal her source doesn’t appear to be among Herridge’s proudest moments. The story revealed that an online school for management and technology founded and overseen by a naturalized citizen from China named Yanping Chen Frame was being investigated by multiple agencies, including the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Pentagon for having alleged ties to China’s military. Herridge’s report said that thousands of records of U.S. service members were possibly compromised.

Despite all the alleged probes by multiple jurisdictions, Yanping was never charged with any wrongdoing. She subsequently sued the U.S. government for violations of the Privacy Act, alleging unlawful leaking of personal information and family photos. As part of her lawsuit, Yanping demanded that Herridge reveal who leaked her personal information.

Herridge fought Yanping’s subpoena, arguing that the First Amendment protected her from having to reveal her sources. Judge Christopher Cooper disagreed. While acknowledging “the vital role of a free press in baring the secrets of government and informing the people,” Cooper ruled that “the protections of the Privacy Act do not disappear when the illegally disclosed information is leaked to a journalist, no matter how newsworthy the government official may feel the information is.”

Therein is the danger and harm that can result when the media reports a person or company is under criminal investigation. Even if they aren’t charged – and the media rarely does a follow up story making that clear – the reputational damage is irreparable.

A Gallup poll released in July 2022 revealed that while the U.S. public was distrustful of the media overall, broadcast journalists were especially distrusted. Sixteen percent of respondents said they had a great deal of trust in print media, while only 11% said they trusted broadcast news. Only Congress, with a 7% trust rating, ranked lower.

Proof positive that the American public is a lot more perceptive than the corporate-owned broadcast networks understand or appreciate.

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