Bloodbath at Paramount claims 800 jobs including CBS News journalists embroiled in controversy


Several CBS News reporters were caught up in layoffs at Paramount Global that claimed 800 jobs, including one who is embroiled in a high-stakes First Amendment fight — and another who has reportedly weathered HR probes over his workplace behavior, The Post has learned.

Catherine Herridge — an award-winning senior correspondent whose First Amendment case is being closely watched by journalists nationwide — was among the hundreds of employees at CBS parent Paramount who got pink slips on Tuesday, sources told The Post.

The carnage provoked outrage from the rank-and-file at CBS, with some focusing their ire on Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish, who pulled down $32 million in total compensation last year despite the company’s ever-shrinking financial profile.

“Everybody in the newsroom is pissed that Bob Bakish is making over $30 million and he’s making these cuts,” one insider fumed.

Elsewhere, some suspected the layoffs were more than just cost-cutting.

Sources said Herridge had clashed with CBS News president Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews — a sharp-elbowed executive who was investigated in 2021 over favoritism and discriminatory hiring and management practices, as revealed by The Post.

CBS News has laid off Catherine Herridge, a senior investigative correspondent who is embroiled in a First Amendment case. Catherine Herridge/X

Sources said CBS News’ Washington bureau, where Herridge covered national security and intelligence, was hit particularly hard.

Among the other Washington casualties, sources said, was CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues, who was subjected to HR probes over his workplace behavior, including an alleged incident in which he dressed down a female colleague in a “20-minute rant.”

When the incident was investigated in 2021, insiders said, Ciprian-Matthews — who insiders have accused of promoting minorities while unfairly sidelining white journalists — attempted to “blame” the female correspondent and eventually gave Pegues a promotion.

Follow the latest on the The Post’s coverage of the turmoil at Paramount and CBS:

That’s despite prior allegations that Pegues had been “lashing out” and “bullying” younger female reporters who “outworked” him, a former CBS manager told The Post.

“She got rid of her enemies under the guise of budget cuts,” one source said of Ciprian-Matthews after Tuesday’s layoffs.

“She cleared the deck and she had to sacrifice some others like Pegues.”

Herridge had allegedly clashed with CBS News president Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, who was the subject of an HR probe in 2021 over discriminatory hiring and management practices. Getty Images

The Post reached out to Ciprian-Matthews for comment.

Wendy McMahon, Ciprian-Matthews’ boss, had defended the executive over her handling of the HR probe involving Pegues.

“Any claims of discriminatory behavior are simply false,” McMahon, president and CEO of CBS News, Stations and CBS Media Ventures, told The Post at the time.

A source said CBS News, which employs just under 2,000 people, got hit with 20 job cuts altogether.

Also among those laid off on Tuesday was Christina Ruffini, a political correspondent who has been featured on “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” “CBS Mornings” and “CBS Sunday Morning.”

Jeff Pegues, the chief national affairs and justice correspondent, was let go. Pegues had racked up HR complaints over alleged bullying of female co-workers. Jeff Pegues/Instagram

Pamela Falk, CBS News correspondent for the United Nations based in New York, was also laid off, according to sources.

CBS News did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Herridge may soon be held in contempt of court for not divulging her source for an investigative piece she penned in 2017 when she worked for Fox News and be ordered to personally pay fines that could total as much as $5,000 a day.

A source close to the situation said Fox News is paying for Herridge’s legal counsel.

Herridge’s departure comes as the journalist faces heat for not complying with US District Judge Christopher Cooper’s order to reveal how she learned about a federal probe into a Chinese American scientist who operated a graduate program in Virginia.

The scientist, Yanping Chen, had been investigated for years on suspicions she may have lied on immigration forms related to work on a Chinese astronaut program, according to Herridge’s report.

Chen has since sued the government, saying details about the probe were leaked to damage her reputation.

She pushed the court to hold Herridge in contempt and make her personally pay daily fees, which could range from $500 to $5,000, rather than allowing CBS or Fox to do so.

Last August, the judge ruled that Chen’s need for the evidence “overcomes Herridge’s qualified First Amendment privilege.”

First Amendment advocates have pushed back, arguing that journalists can perform their public service function only if they are able to protect the identities of their confidential sources.

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