The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Jeff Vaughn, ex-KCBS anchor, sues Paramount, CBS for alleged discrimination

The broadcast veteran claims he was replaced by a less-experienced anchor because of Paramount's diversity goals.

The broadcast veteran claims he was replaced by a less-experienced anchor because of Paramount's diversity goals.

Former KCBS-TV and KCAL news anchor Jeff Vaughn. (Still frame via broadcast)
Former KCBS-TV and KCAL news anchor Jeff Vaughn. (Still frame via broadcast)

A former CBS television news anchor is suing the network and Paramount Globa., claiming the company fired him last year for being a straight, white male.

Jeff Vaughn worked for KCBS-TV (Channel 2) and KCAL (Channel 9) in Los Angeles for eight years, until he was dismissed from the Paramount-owned TV stations last September.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court this week, attorneys representing Vaughn claim he was “never given a reason for his firing,” but he suspects it had something to do with the network’s apparent desire to replace him with a younger, minority news anchor.

Vaughn’s attorneys say the news anchor suspected something was up last August, when he was told he would be terminated. He was given the opportunity to say goodbye to viewers on what was his last newscast with the station, but only if he affirmed his departure was of his own making.

“Mr. Vaughn refused to lie on-air,” his attorneys wrote in the complaint.

On September 22, another news anchor delivered a statement during a KCAL newscast in which they said Vaughn “didn’t want to make a big fuss about leaving.” The suggestion was that Vaughn had decided of his own accord to depart the station, something his attorneys said was “false.”

“He was never given a reason for his firing,” the attorneys wrote in the complaint. “But it was obvious. He was too old, and not a member of the right race, sex, or sexual orientation category for CBS’ retention policy.”

But Vaughn knew for almost two years that the day was coming. In his complaint, he says he was told by KCBS-KCAL General Manager Joel Vilmenay in May 2022 that “he would not be working at CBS in six months, and that he was going to be replaced.”

That same month, Vaughn says he had a conversation with KCBS-KCAL Vice President and News Director Mike Dello Stritto about the situation, to which Dello Stritto purportedly said his impending departure was “not about the ratings.” Vilmenay and Dello Stritto are not parties to his lawsuit.

Vaughn said KCBS and KCAL held auditions for his replacement, all of whom were younger minorities. He was ultimately succeeded by Chauncey Glover, described by Vaughn’s legal team as “a young, African-American male who checked CBS’s diversity boxes.”

Glover replaced Vaughn despite having “minimal experience,” his attorneys complained. By comparison, Vaughn described himself as a four-time Emmy Award winning “legend of broadcasting, with over 30 years of experience” as a TV journalist who was ultimately fired by CBS because “he is an older, white, heterosexual male.”

CBS and Paramount have not commented on the lawsuit. The complaint names Wendy McMahon among the defendants. McMahon is the CEO of CBS News and Stations, the Paramount division that includes more than two dozen local CBS and independent TV stations.

Vaughn is represented by attorneys from America First Legal, which describes itself as “a conservative legal organization that defends true equality, national sovereignty, freedom of speech and religion, and other American values.”

America First Legal also represents a script coordinator on a popular CBS drama who claims he was passed over for a writing job because of Paramount’s diversity goals. Both lawsuits state that Paramount and CBS have a goal of increasing Black, Indigenous and People of Color, or BIPOC, representation in the workforce.

They alleged that Paramount’s diversity goals come at the expense of good workers who don’t fit into a particular demographic.

In Vaughn’s complaint, he notes that McMahon has affirmed similar diversity and equity initiatives, and claims the executive has prioritized hiring women and people of color during her tenure as the CEO of Paramount’s local broadcast division.

“Plaintiff is informed and believes that McMahon is responsible for intentionally implementing the illegal company policy, which favored groups based on their race, sex, and sexual orientation,” the lawsuit complains.

Vaughn is seeking at least $5 million in punitive and compensatory damages. The case is being heard in federal court because Paramount and CBS are headquartered in New York, and federal court has jurisdiction over interstate matters.

Vaughn has since launched his own weekly news recap podcast, called “The Jeff Vaughn Show,” which streams on YouTube.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.

[rank_math_breadcrumb]