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CBS News Staffers Unhappy With ‘Rude’ Boss Neeraj Khemlani, Several File Human Resources Complaints

CBS News Staffers Unhappy With ‘Rude’ Boss Neeraj Khemlani, Several File Human Resources Complaints

  • They say the Indian American is slashing costs in a bid to revamp the struggling network but is demanding more work.

Nearly eight months after he was named to a top leadership role at CBS, Neeraj Khemlani is being labeled a “rude” and “tough” boss. The New York Post, in its report, said that Khemlani, who heads CBS News “is slashing costs in a bid to revamp the struggling network,” but “is demanding more work.” 

Khemlani joined the network in May along with Wendy McMahon, former head of ABC’s television stations group.

Citing sources, the report adds that Khemlai’s behavior has prompted several staffers to file human resources complaints. Additionally, agents for CBS employees have complained about Khemlani on their clients’ behalf to CBS CEO George Cheeks, adds the Post report. Cheeks hired Khemlani after taking the helm last January. “It’s unclear whether any disciplinary action has been taken,” the Post report noted. 

The network is struggling, according to the Post, and “is reassessing budgets amid concerns that it may no longer be able to afford big-name anchors.

Anecdotes and testimony of several employees shared with the Post reveal Khemlani’s unpopularity at the network. “There has never been a more unpopular news division president,” one CBS veteran told the Post. “I don’t think people would be surprised if he’s not here in a couple of months.”

Another employee told the Post about a video conference that Khemlani held during the first week he started. The employee said that there were “roughly 200 staffers on the call,” and Khemlani “took digs at various news teams, lamenting how slowly they got on the air to report breaking stories, among other tough judgments.”

Some employees also speculated that Cheeks tapped Khemlani at the behest of ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish and chair Shari Redstone “to chop overhead at CBS and merge it with Comcast, which already has a news division,” the report added. “Others believe that the steep cuts are related to Viacom’s 2019 merger with CBS, which promised cost synergies of $300 million in 2020 and a three-year target of $800 million.”

Meanwhile, the Post report also noted the changes Khemlani made at the news network to reverse a rating slump at CBS This Morning. The report mentioned how last fall, Khemlani changed the show’s name to “CBS Mornings” and “replaced co-anchor Anthony Mason with Nate Burleson, who joined King and Tony Dokoupil at the anchor table.” He also moved the show from CBS’ Broadcast Center on 57th street to a second-floor studio in ViacomCBS’ corporate headquarters in Times Square.

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Before joining CBS, Khemlani was the vice president of Hearst and the executive vice president and deputy group head of Hearst Newspapers. Before that, he was vice president and general manager of Yahoo! News & Information as well as head of Yahoo! Originals. He worked as a producer for CBS News’ “60 Minutes” and “60 Minutes II.” He also worked at ABC News, where he produced segments for “Nightline,” “Good Morning America,” “Peter Jennings Reporting” and “ABC News Specials.” 

He has won numerous awards, including a 2004 Emmy nomination for business reporting, a 2003 Emmy nomination for best interview, the 2002 Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting and a DuPont Award in 1995 for his participation in ABC News’ coverage of the war in Bosnia.

Khemlani began his career as a newspaper reporter, writing for The New York Times and The Post-Standard in Syracuse, New York, while in college. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he graduated with honors, and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Cornell University, where he was the editor-in-chief of The Cornell Daily Sun.

(Top photo, Twitter)

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