John Huddy, the executive producer of CBS News' "Nightwatch" and the subject of an internal investigation based on allegations of sex discrimination, resigned yesterday. He said he found the investigation "shocking and unfair."
Huddy, who has held the job for the past two years, was placed on paid leave last week pending the outcome of the investigation within the CBS News Washington bureau, where "Nightwatch" is produced.
CBS issued a statement yesterday saying that "Huddy tendered his resignation at the conclusion of an internal investigation by CBS management into the grievances alleged by staff members against him.
"The grievances expressed by staff members included several specific allegations of misconduct," the statement continued.
CBS officials declined to comment on precisely what events led to the investigation, the findings of the investigation, or any future action to be taken as a result of these findings.
"CBS management stated there were no allegations that Mr. Huddy solicited sexual favors from any women working with the broadcast, contrary to any inferences that might be drawn from media reports which appeared since the examination of the grievances began."
There was no word on the future of the show, whose fate has been the subject of much speculation in the past few months. Vicki Sufian, a New York producer for "Nightwatch," has been acting as executive producer since Huddy went on leave and will continue to do so until a decision is reached about a new executive producer or the future of the broadcast.
Reached at his home by telephone yesterday, Huddy said that "I emphatically deny any suggestion of misconduct of any sort and am reviewing my legal options."
He said, "I have resigned my position at CBS News in vigorous protest of an internal process I found shocking and unfair. I was never confronted with my accusers; their complaints were vague, shifting and unspecific. I found my political views under attack and inaccurate reports were leaked to the press of an inflammatory nature.
"It's important to note that the sexual-harassment and sexual-discrimination innuendos, which appeared in early press accounts, have been knocked down. It's also important to point out that in four years in CBS News I have hired and promoted more women than any other executive producer at the network.
"My mission two years ago was to come to Washington and revive what CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter described as a 'putrifying corpse.' I have carried out that mission. Today 'Nightwatch' has achieved a 40 percent audience growth compared to a similar period a year ago. It has become, in the words of Sauter and a series of national critics, a broadcast of excellence and worth. In view of this achievement, my parting is all the more remarkable and disappointing."
Huddy said he thought the investigation was the result of an incident "where three female broadcast associates, one a feminist lawyer, I might add, felt they were being discriminated against because they were asked to do fill-in secretarial duties."
*He said the complaints were simply a response to "hard-nosed management in which some of the women said they were intimidated. My reply to that was 'I treat women the same way I treat men.'
"Under the extreme conditions of 'Nightwatch' of the last three months . . . I would never deny that I'm a hard-nosed boss . . . Am I saying I was a scapegoat? Yeah, to a certain extent. But on the other hand, let me say I'm a big boy and they pay me a lot of money to take the heat."
Moving Right Along "ABC News Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel was reported to be doing nicely after a minor operation yesterday. At the conclusion of Monday's broadcast, Koppel announced that he would be having surgery to remove a basal-cell carcinoma on the lower lid of his right eye . . .
An ABC spokeswoman said Koppel had the bump removed in a doctor's office in Washington and that "he's just fine and will return to work on Monday" . . .
That big shake-up at CBS Sports this week could have a Washington angle . . .
Terry O'Neil, who has been executive producer for NFL football and the weekend sports anthologies, will leave the network soon . . .
He was a Notre Dame classmate of Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann and many saw him as Joe's ticket to a spot on the NFL broadcast lineups if Theismann is forced to retire . . .
CBS Sports put Ted Shaker as executive producer in charge of all sports, eliminating the other executive producer positions. Kevin O'Malley, who's been executive producer for college football and basketball, may remain on a consultancy basis . . .
Frank Chirkinian, who has been executive producer for golf and tennis, remains as a coordinating producer. He's in good shape because he has his own production company, whose relationship with CBS Sports continues . . .
Shaker had previously been executive producer for NBA basketball and "NFL Today" . . .
Eleanor Prescott, who has been a producer for ABC's "20/20," has been named executive producer of ABC's upcoming Sunday morning business show, tentatively titled "The Bottom Line" . . .
Prescott will be the second woman executive producer at ABC after Pam Hill, who's in charge of the "Closeup" series . . .
* And Betty Hudson, vice president, corporate relations and advertising, is headed for bigger things at NBC as the network reorganizes company-wide its promotion and advertising departments . . .
John Miller, who's in charge of advertising and promotion for NBC Entertainment, is being put in charge of all such activities including news, sports and corporate business . . .
Announcements including exact titles for the new positions won't be made for a couple of weeks yet . . .
Under the reorganization both Hudson and Miller will report to M.S. Rukeyser Jr., executive vice president, corporate communications . . .
Wait, There's More Best moment during recent TV press tour: When about 120 reporters booed "Entertainment Tonight" out of an NBC press conference for asking too many questions during an executive's appearance . . .
At the CBS News bureau in Washington, Susan Morrison has resigned as news assignment manager . . .
She'll be replaced by Thomas Seem, who's been her deputy. Ward Sloane, who's been a desk editor, succeeds Seem and Walter Dean, who's also been a desk editor, becomes weekend editor . . .
Paris police yesterday blew up a suitcase belonging to ABC News after a bomb scare forced evacuation of a press conference being held in conjunction with the international conference on AIDS . . .
The ABC suitcase contained lighting gear . . .
The annual Humanitas Prizes awarded for "humanizing achievements" in TV writing went to an episode of NBC's "The Cosby Show" and CBS' "Cagney & Lacey" in the 30-minute and 60-minute categories, respectively. The "Cosby" episode, titled "Denise's Friend," was written by David Lloyd. The winning "Cagney" episode, "Ordinary Hero," was written by Robert Eisele . . .
In the 90-minute or longer category, CBS' "Do You Remember Love?" written by Vickie Patik was the winner while an "ABC Afterschool Special" called "No Greater Gift," written by Josef Anderson, won in the children's live action category . . .
"CBS Reports: The Vanishing Family -- Crisis in Black America," written by Ruth C. Streeter and Perry Wolff, won in the primetime documentary category and NBC's "Main Street," written by Bryant Gumbel, William Schechner and Patrick Trese, won in the children's documentary category . . . The Humanitas Prizes, worth $10,000 for 30-minute programs, $15,000 for 60 minutes and $25,000 for 90- minute primetime programs, go to "writers of the nationally broadcast teleplays and most fully communicate human values and bring the insights of the Judaic-Christian vision of the human condition to bear on contemporary life." For the past 14 years, they have been awarded by the Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute . . .
Freda Reiter, 67, an Emmy-award winning sketch artist for ABC News, died Monday in Philadelphia after a long illness . . .
Mrs. Reiter covered the Senate and the House, the Supreme Court, the Watergate hearings and the Westmoreland-CBS trial among many assignments. She won an Emmy for her work on the ABC documentary "America Held Hostage: The Secret Negotiations" . . .
"CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" held on to the top spot in the weekly network news race for the week ending June 20 with a 10.1 Nielsen rating and a 22 percent audience share. "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" followed with a 9.9/22 and "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" finished with a 9.3/20. TV Ratingzzzz
Following are the top 20 network primetime shows last week, ranked according to the percentage of the nation's 85.9 million TV households that watched, as measured by the A.C. Nielsen Co. A share represents the percentage of actual sets-in-use tuned to a particular program when it aired. [See Original Source]
NBC's comedies helped it to a first-place finish in the ratings for the week ending June 22 with a 12.7 Nielsen rating and a 24 percent audience share, followed by ABC with an 11.1/21 and CBS with a 10.6/20...
The top six shows were all NBC sitcoms and NBC's limited-run ''Me and Mrs. C'' managed to garner even better ratings than its high-rated ''The Golden Girls'' lead-in...
CBS' ''West 57th'' managed a 10.1 rating and a 19 share, while NBC's ''1986'' fared even more dismally with an 8.1/17.