In an interview this afternoon with TVNewser, fired CBS News Producer Dick Jefferson says his dismissal was like “being kicked out of your family.” Jefferson, an 18-year veteran of the network is suing CBS for $50 million, and naming Senior VP Linda Mason in the suit.
He was let go Nov. 20, 2006 for what he calls a “fraudulent performance issue.”
Jefferson and a co-worker, Ryan Smith, were severely injured in a gay-bashing attack on the island of St. Martin in April 2006.
CBS responded to the suit calling it a “vicious and unconscionable attack on Mason’s character.” Jefferson says he “would be glad to call as witnesses every correspondent and anchor, past and present” should the case go to trial.
Jefferson claims he was unduly fired for bringing too much unwanted attention to his case. In the days after the attack, he appeared on “Good Morning America”, MSNBC and Viacom’s gay-themed channel Logo.
When asked about CBS News paying thousands of dollars to airlift Jefferson and Smith from their vacation to receive proper treatment, Jefferson says “I am very grateful, Ryan owes his life to that decision” but that’s “not what this is about, this is about Linda (who Jefferson calls a mentor) saying it’s my job to protect CBS News.”
“I tried to explain to Sean (McManus, President of CBS News & Sports) that the lawsuit is not my personal vendetta against the company, they are family, it was really weird, like being kicked out of your family.”
Ryan Smith still works with CBS News at its newsmagazine “48 Hours.”