Tuesday, November 21, 2017

FOX, HUNTER NICKELL, AND 'A PROPER WORK ENVIRONMENT'



After a litany of sexual harassment allegations, millions upon millions of dollars in settlements,
and a tsunami of bad publicity, 21st Century Fox wants everyone to know they are going to
clean up their act and do away with the "Animal House" mentality that's permeated
many of their newsrooms.

According to The New York Times, the media conglomerate is creating "the Fox News 
Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council to ensure a proper workplace
environment."

Imagine that.

After the late Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, two horny, hot-blooded, maturity level-of-a-12-
year-old that preyed on just about every women that walked into the newsroom,  the
mothership now feels it's time to make the workplace a safer one.

Apparently, all that training for management and the glossy manuals with all the rules
and regulations carefully put together by the HR department and issues to every employee
just weren't enough to ensure a safe work environment, so Fox has created a workplace professionalism and inclusion council!

In the year 2017, highly-educated and experienced members of the management team
couldn't figure out  the workplace is not a frat house so they constructed the workplace
and professionalism and inclusion council.

Good, lord.

Should we starting giving odds on who will be the first on-air personality to go on secret
double-probation? Sean Hannity? Bill Hemmer? Or perhaps, Geraldo Rivera will be
called into the office by Dean Wermer first.

After finishing the article in The New York Times, I said to myself,  "Where was that
workplace professional and inclusion council when I worked for one of their companies?"

If any Fox Network needed a special council to ensure a proper workplace environment,
it was Fox Sports Net in Atlanta which my co-anchor, Matt Morrison, famously described
as "Romper Room on steroids."

It was an environment permeated by ignorance, incompetence, and just an utter disregard
for civility, respect, and professionalism. An out-of-control and unprofessional workplace
environment was created and cultivated by general manager, Hunter Nickell and executive
producer, Steve Craddock, neither of whom had an ounce of experience overseeing a news
operation.

They had a  newsroom void of sexual harassment, but rich in other forms of grossly
inappropriate behavior. Employees were allowed to, on company time, create and post
offensive and degrading memos that attacked co-workers, humiliating them with
unflattering references to their families, religion, and career.

Co-workers were allowed to create, on company time, offensive letters sometimes
attached to a feminine products, which they proceeded to leave on a co-workers desk.

Employees were allowed to humiliate a co-anchor live on the air with offensive language.

An employee was allowed to tell a co-worker upon declining a request for food that,
"his mother wants a dick sandwich because that's the way she likes."

Any executive, manager, or anyone in human resources with a conscious or half-a-clue
would classify all of those as not only inappropriate, but grounds for discipline and even
termination. Hunter Nickell and Steve Craddock chose to ignore them. Every single one
of them.

“The Workplace Council gives our management team access to a brain trust of experts
with deep and diverse experiences in workplace issues,” Jack Abernethy, co-president
of Fox News Channel, said in a statement about his special counsel employed after an
array of sexual allegation were leveled against the company. “We look forward to benefiting
from their collective guidance.”


It's really a shame that Nickell and Craddock didn't have "access to a brain trust of experts"
to guide them on what  a proper workplace environment really is. It's too bad they couldn't
have used the "collective guidance" of the experts Fox News is employing now. The work environment at Fox Sports Net in Atlanta made the one at Fox News look like a seminary.

Seriously, is it really all that hard to create a workplace with a foundation that's centered
around respect, civility, decency, and the maturity-level of say, a 21-year-old?

Good, grief. 21st Century Fox, one of the most powerful brands in the world has to
create an "inclusion council" just to ensure a proper workplace environment? That's embarrassing.

Have our personal code of ethics, integrity, and values dropped off that much in society
where a company like Fox has to create something with a fancy name to make sure people
can do their jobs without being harassed and distracted by teenage-like behavior?

If only Fox Sports Net in Atlanta had "access to a brain trust of experts with deep and
diverse experiences in workplace issues", as Jack Abernethy, co-president of Fox
News Channel eloquently stated. Nickell and Craddock would've learned that employees
posting degrading memos throughout the building is considered a epic form of harassment
and should be dealt with accordingly. What did they do when that happened? Oh, right,
they looked other way then destroyed the memo to protect themselves.

A proper workplace environment seems easy to define and produce to anyone with an I.Q.
over five, but our society seems to be lacking in intelligence these days and in this social-
media driven world, everyone seems to have different views on different things, no matter
how cut-and-dried they should be.

However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines two types of
harassment: "Quid pro quo harassment, which is requests for sexual favors, something
that Fox News specializes in, or hostile environment harassment, which is creating a hostile workplace that interferes with performance." Fox Sports Net in Atlanta was without equal
when it came to that.

There isn't enough space on 20 blogs to jot down all the childish and offensive things
that occurred in a ridiculous and offensive workplace culture created and fostered by
Nickell and Craddock. I've worked in at least 10 different television newsrooms and
the one in Atlanta was, by far, the most unproductive, unsupervised, and unprofessional
one I've ever been around, and it's not even close.

Nickell and Craddock acted as their own human resources department to ensure that
headquarters never got wind of their utter lack of institutional control. They suppressed
and even destroyed evidence of undeniable acts of harassment in the workplace.

Can we have the new "workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council to ensure
proper workplace environment,," weigh in, retroactively, on the culture at Fox Sports
in Atlanta? 

Nickell, a former high school teacher, once held a secret meeting when an employee
called in sick and encouraged others to air their complaints about a co-worker who was
not there to defend himself.

I'm wondering what the new "professionalism and inclusion council" would think of
Nickell's interpretation of due process. Nickell had an open door policy that allowed
anyone to run into his office to complain about a co-worker. However, when it came to
handling conflict, Nickell only listened to one side of the story before making a decision.
He once suspended an anchor without asking him a single question about what happened,
instead, taking the word of a neophyte producer who was just looking to cover his tail.

Man, Hunter and Fox Sports Net in Atlanta really could've used the new Workplace
Professionalism and Inclusion Council to ensure a proper workplace environment.

Society often wants to condemn those who dig up dirt. In reality, it should always call
out those who try to cover it up. The truth is the only thing that matters here. It's amazing
how some people want to run from it and even destroy it when it doesn't fall in their favor.

Hunter Nickell and the mothership should thank their lucky stars every single day they
didn't get hit with the mother of all lawsuits.

It would've been a slam dunk.











Sunday, October 22, 2017

FOX CULTURE, COVER-UPS, & HUNTER NICKELL



"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
                                                                                 -MLK, Jr.

The scandals at Penn State, as well as the recent one at Baylor University, where
head coach Art Briles was fired after being negligent in a sexual assault scandal involving
several members of the team are common in sports, but they've become more prevalent in
the corporate world.

Fox television, which is owned by NewsCorp, has been mired in a sexual harassment scandal
that led to the termination of news guru Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, and,  ultimately the resignation of Bill Shine, who was a co-president at the company. He was accused in
several lawsuits of  covering up Mr. Ailes’s behavior and dismissing concerns from
women who complained about it.

Instead of doing what was right, Shine allegedly did the right thing for himself and the
company. He allegedly attempted to brush aside the complaints of all those women who
claimed they were sexually harassed, allegedly, trying to make like they never happened.

                                "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered;
                                 the point is to discover them."-Galileo Galilei

The culture at Fox News was not unlike the one I encountered and experienced while working
for Fox Sports Net several years ago. I was an anchor for both the South and Arizona region,
as both were broadcast out of the Atlanta.

The news operation started from scratch with very little leadership and/or experience. Hunter
Nickell, the president and general manager, had never been part of a news operation. Steve
Craddock, his confidant and executive producer, knew about production, but didn't spend an
hour of his life in a newsroom.

The newsroom they constructed was Romper Room on steroids.

One day, a few clowns in the newsroom tried to play a prank on a fellow employee. They
constructed a full-page memo and posted it throughout the newsroom and office. The memo
attacked the person's character, family, job path, and made light of his ability with a reference
to Marv Albert. The memo was allowed to remain posted for six hours before the employee
came in.

Nickell shrugged it off as a "locker room" prank. That's fine and good, but this wasn't a
locker room. It was supposed to be a professional working environment. There isn't an
office anywhere in the country where that kind of behavior is tolerated. There isn't a human
resource department  that believes that's acceptable.

I was personal friends with the person who was on the wrong end of the memo. He admitted
to me that it ripped him to his core. He didn't sleep for six months. He'd come home from his
shift at 3 a.m. and admitted he stayed in bed until he had to go to bed until 4 p.m. when he had
to go to work. My friend said he had to go to therapy to work through the damage the memo
had done.

Former U.S. Senator Ted Danforth once said while eulogizing a close friend who had been
victimized by bullying and a smear campaign that he could no longer deal with:

"There’s a principle of law called the thin skull rule. It says that if you hurt someone
who is unusually susceptible to injury, you are liable even for the damages you didn’t
anticipate. The person who caused the injury must pay, not the person with the thin
skull. A good rule of law should be a good rule of politics. The bully should get the
blame not the victim."

Instead of doing what is right, Nickell and Craddock did what was right for themselves. Self-
preservation. They did little to assure my friend he'd be guaranteed a safe environment to
work in. Instead, they collected all the existing memos throughout the building and destroyed
them.They only cared about protecting themselves. They knew if corporate got wind of the
type of culture they had created, their jobs would be gone and the golden goose would go
along with it.

When my friend confronted Nickell on the situation and the memo, Nickell told my friend,
"It's been taken care of." Nickell didn't reprimand or suspend anyone in the office. He
just made like it never happened.

Both Nickell and Craddock declined repeated requests for comment on this story.

Making like things never happened was a skill Nickell had perfected. According to
one anchor who is still part of the Fox Regional Networks and chose not to be identified for
obvious reasons, Nickell once called a 'secret' meeting when one of the anchors called in sick.

"It was one of the most unbelievable things I ever experienced not only in television, but just
life in general," he said. "Hunter called in about 15 employees and asked them their opinion
of the anchor who called in sick. He gave them free reign to say whatever they wanted without
fear of repercussion. And they did. The guy wasn't even there to defend himself or call B.S.
on all the personal attacks. That's about as low as anything I've ever seen in the business."

I'm not sure that can be classified as doing what is right.

Things didn't end there at Fox Sports Net with Nickell.

Just over an hour before I was to anchor a show, I received a call that Michael Tardio, a
childhood friend of mine, had been brutally murdered in Los Angeles. His story was
documented in spectacular fashion on 48 Hours on CBS, titled, "Playing with
Fire." Check out The 48 Hours link.

As one can imagine, I was shocked, stunned, and in a state of utter disbelief.  However, I
still had several shows to anchor and couldn't let if affect my performance. I had to put on
the good face and do my job. Usually, when I get on the set, I joke around to lighten the
crew up.  I'm always pretty happy because, after all, I had a dream job anchoring sports.
However, I was quiet and not in any kind of mood to kid around after learning of my friend's
brutal death.

After I got off the set, I returned to my desk to find a derogatory note with a feminine
product attached to it. It was a prank that had gone way too far, especially with the discovery
that a childhood friend of mine, a person part of a family whom I've been friends with for more
than 40 years had been gunned down and lit on fire.

It had crossed well-beyond the line of a professional working environment. It violated nearly
every guideline for a safe environment in the company handbook.

Nickell, as usual, chose not to address the situation. He was more concerned with finding
a way to keep corporate from finding out about it. According to a longtime producer who
worked at Fox Sport Net, Nickell "destroyed the memo and didn't bother to address it with
the person who created it."

The producer went on to say, "Hunter made himself out to be this salt-of-the-earth guy. And
many people liked him. But he was in way over his head when it came to dealing with a
newsroom. Hunter knew about ad sales, marketing, and such but the only thing he knew about broadcast television was how to turn to the channel the network was on. And he was the
kind of guy who believed that if nobody at corporate found out, then it didn't happen."

There were rules in place at Fox Sports Net. A glitzy company handbook was passed out to
employees to make sure they knew what was right and what was wrong. It's unfortunate
Hunter Nickell didn't bother to read it. Or perhaps, he just chose to make up the rules as
he went along. However, his number one rule always stayed in place: do what is right for me

The time is always right to do what is right.

From Penn State to Baylor and college campuses in-between, I've covered many of these
type of cover-up stories. Leaders and executives who believe they are above the rules and
the law, try to find a way to make those things that could potentially make them look bad, go
away.

When the truth doesn't fall in their favor or could shake the pole leading up to their lofty
perch, they run from it, or even worse, bury it, hoping that nobody ever finds out.

Instead of doing the right things for the victims of attacks, assaults, and rule-breaking pranks,
they do what is right for themselves and their careers.

Bill Shine found that out. So did Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly. Art Briles was a
$4-million-a-year coach, now he's forever unemployable with a reputation that came down
quicker than a house of cards. Joe Paterno? He was fired and destroyed a near perfect
reputation. Same goes for the administrators at Penn State. They made the mistake of
doing the right thing for themselves  instead of what is right.

Many of these people are like the Wizard of Oz. They talk a big game and are real tough
behind a shield or façade. But once you pull back the curtain, we find out just how small
and arrogant they really are. We see how they build great public images but then discover
their content of character is beyond foul and wretched.

They end up getting exposed for what they truly are: cowards.

                                        Cowards die many times before their deaths;
                                          The valiant never taste of death but once.

                                                                                               -Shakespeare









Tuesday, June 20, 2017

BRAD STEINKE: CHEATER IN GOLF, CHEATER IN LIFE


It's been said that golf can reveal a lot about a person’s character. How a person acts on
the golf course is a pretty good indicator of how they conduct themselves off it.

If a person cheats in golf, he will most likely cheat in business and in life. If someone
throws clubs and curses when things go bad from tee to green, there is a good chance they will probably come unglued when things don't go their way off it.

I thought about that when I was recently perusing the television transaction wire and
saw that Brad Steinke left WKRC in Cincinnati after just two years as the station's sports
director. He was said to be pursuing other opportunities out west.

Back to golf and cheating.

We usually played three times a week before heading into work to anchor the network's nightly broadcasts at Fox Sports Net in Atlanta and Arizona. Steinke liked to fancy himself
an avid golfer, aficionado, and always boasted of a single-digit handicap.

However, during our golf outings, Steinke was often so desperate to win our friendly bets,
he felt the need to cheat along the way. He was the only guy I ever played with who could
knock two balls out-of-bounds and insist that he recorded a par.

                   If a person cheats in golf, he most likely will cheat in business and in life.

That statement certainly rang true with Steinke. We were good friends at Fox Sports Net,
but Steinke always had an agenda and was a master manipulator. He is the kind of person
who would throw his parents under the bus to get ahead. Steinke had a penchant for cutting
others downin front of management to make himself look better.

On the day I learned my contract wasn't being renewed, my  'ole pal called to offer his
condolences. Quite honestly, I wasn't in the mood to talk and told him as much and was
quick to end the call.

    If someone throws clubs and curses when things go bad from tee to green, there is a good
          chance they will probably come unglued when things don't go their way off it.

Seconds later, the phone rang again. It was on a landline and I didn't have caller ID so I
just let it go to voicemail. I retrieved the message a short time later and what I heard was
part-comedy and a ton of self-absorption.

"You don't hang up on Brad Steinke! Nobody hangs up on Brad Steinke! Do you know
how many Emmy awards I have won?' Nobody hangs up on Brad Steinke!"

For real? Broadcast television is filled with monster egos, divas, prima donnas, and those
who think the business cannot go one without them. Steinke is one of those people except
that he's in an entirely different stratosphere when it comes to evaluating his importance.

Steinke (yes, that's he's real name) had an overinflated opinion of himself and those Emmy
awards, which were local Emmy's and in this day and age of television, are the equivalent of a participation trophy. Just as long as you pay that $300 entry fee, chances are you'll get something back that's all nice and shiny.

Steinke liked to make sure everyone knew all about his local Emmy awards. He would
have them strategically placed in the foyer of his townhouse so all his guests could see them
on their way in. Steinke's LinkedIn profile picture is, of course, him posing with his local Emmy.


Somebody should have given Steinke an Emmy award in the category of most creative
(lying). Remember that saying,  If a person cheats in golf, he most likely will cheat in business
and in life?

Well, after Steinke left that message on my voicemail, he knew he had to do something
to save face. I'm sure he thought I'd run to management and spill the beans on his immaturity,
not to mention his massive ego. Steinke forgot one very BIG thing: I am nothing like him.
I don't lie,  cheat, or complain. I don't run to management, mommy, or anyone else with any
problem I may have. I handle it myself.

Steinke was so worried about that message he left on my voicemail that he became
desperate to discredit me. Just as he did on the golf course, Steinke wanted so badly to come
out ahead he'd do anything to try to beat me.

On a sun-splashed afternoon in the middle of Atlanta, Steinke passed me as I was waiting
to come off a road where I had just dropped a couple of friends off.  We had spent most of
the day at a boat party at Lake Lanier, a vast man-made lake about 90 minutes outside of the
ATL and I was giving them a ride home.

I pulled up to Steinke who was in his white BMW convertible which had its top down.
and said, "What's up?" I knew if I said anything else, Steinke would've pulled his diva
act and called the police and made up some ridiculous story. But Steinke also knew that
if he went to the authorities, they would've laughed in his face for making such a childish
complaint. There's also a good chance they would've questioned his gender, which had become a common occurrence throughout Steinke's adult life.


Nope. Steinke wouldn't do that. Remember what I said about how when a person cheats
on a golf course it reveals a lot about his character?  If a person cheats in golf, he most likely
will cheat in business and in life.

Steinke was so hell-bent on winning again, he cheated with his story. By a lot. Forget about
wasting two balls out-of-bounds and claiming he got a par. Steinke went for the eagle on this
one. He called management and told them I was following him. Yep, on a crystal clear
Saturday afternoon with nothing else to do, Steinke said I was following him.

Wait a minute, that deserves a big LOL.

There isn't a single person on this planet who would ever think I'd follow anyone, much less
a 5'9", 155-pound Pee Wee Herman look-a-like. Purely comical.

I'll give Steinke some credit, though, he did a good job of reading his management team
who were far less intelligent and more cowardly than he is. Hunter Nickell, Steve
Craddock, and  Rebecca Schulte are like most people in our rush-to-judgement, knee-jerk
reaction society: they believe everything they hear, no questions asked. They are the type
of people who believe whatever they read, especially if it's on the Internet because, by golly,
if it's on the Internet it MUST be true. (Wink, wink).

Yes, Steinke had to win so badly (again), that he had to cheat in life. Had to cheat the
story. There was no fear of repercussion. No need to explain himself or worry about facing
the person he accused. Steinke knew management didn't have the courage to challenge his
story or even ask me about it, as if I should have to defend myself against utter nonsense.
So, he just let it rip and let everyone in on his fantasy.

Of course, they bought it. Our society buys just about everything people are selling these
days. Just look at the comments posted on Facebook and you will see how many people are intellectually challenged or can't think for themselves.

Steinke cheats on the golf course. Cheats in business. And cheats in life. Everyone at WKRC
saw that and Steinke knew it was time to pursue those "other" opportunities.

Oh, and I can't defame Steinke. The truth took care of that

Sunday, May 7, 2017

THE FOX CULTURE, COVER-UPS, AND HUNTER NICKELL



"The time is always right to do what is right."
                                                                                                           -MLK, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. would probably roll over in his grave if he got a whiff of the
toxic stench  that permeates our society today. MLK, Jr. hoped people would be judged
by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. The content of the character
thing still has a long, long way to go. Power, greed, entitlement, getting ahead, and doing
whatever it takes to accomplish all of those have diluted a value system where honesty,
integrity, and honor once meant something.

Instead of doing the right thing, most people today seem to do the right thing only when
it's right for themselves. Self-preservation has become almost as important as the next selfie
in our self-absorbed world.

The time is always right to do what is right.

18 college students on the campus of Penn State did not do what is right. And it cost them.

They were recently charged in the death of a 19-year-old sophomore at Penn State who
drank so much at an on-campus fraternity party, he had a blood-alcohol level of .40, which
is pretty close to being dead on your feet. Tim Piazza fell down stairs, not once but twice.
The fraternity brothers he desperately wanted to like, all but abandoned him while he was
on his way to a toxic death.

Instead of doing the right thing, the frat boys went into self-preservation mode and did the
right thing for themselves.

During the subsequent investigation, police discovered a text from a leader of the frat
house to a few of the other frat boys who pretty much let their so-call 'brother' die a
painful death:

"If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind [a bar] the next morning
at around 10 a.m., and he was freezing-cold, but we decided to call 911 instantly, because
the kid's health was paramount."

Sad. Sick. Disturbing.

It's almost frightening this kind of cover-up came on the same Penn State campus that was
forever stained and wounded by a child sex-abuse scandal in 2011. It happened within the
prestigious football program built by the legendary Joe Paterno, a coach who was lauded from
coast-to-coast by the media, administrator, players, and coaches for "winning the right way."

The image built by Paterno was shattered by the biggest scandal in college sports history
as his former longtime assistant, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested for sexually abusing young
children with many of the lewd acts taking place inside the walls of the football facility.

The subsequent investigation revealed that administrators, including the president and
athletic director, did their best to cover-up the scandal. The late Paterno, who was told of
an incident between Sandusky and a child by a former assistant coach, would say he wished
he "had done more."  He admitted telling administrators about the incident, but that was
pretty much it.

Administrators knew if the media got wind of a scandal of those proportions, Penn State
and the football program, as they knew it, would sink like the Titanic. They would lose their
jobs and be cut off from the golden goose. And the once sterling reputation of Paterno would
be stained forever.

Instead of doing the right thing and reporting the child sex-abuse incidents, they chose to try
and do the right thing for themselves which entailed covering up the unfathomable.

However, when the PSU tanker hit the iceberg, all the sordid details came out, and they were
all doomed. Paterno, the president, and athletic director, lost everything.

Instead of doing the right thing and protecting young kids, they tried to protect themselves.
The contents of their character? Clearly, they didn't have enough good character to fill up
a thimble.


"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
                                                                                 -MLK, Jr.

The scandals at Penn State, as well as the recent one at Baylor University, where
head coach Art Briles was fired after being negligent in a sexual assault scandal involving
several members of the team are common in sports, but they've become more prevalent in
the corporate world.

Fox television, which is owned by NewsCorp, has been mired in a sexual harassment scandal
that led to the termination of news guru Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, and,  ultimately the resignation of Bill Shine, who was a co-president at the company. He was accused in
several lawsuits of  covering up Mr. Ailes’s behavior and dismissing concerns from
women who complained about it.

Instead of doing what was right, Shine allegedly did the right thing for himself and the
company. He allegedly attempted to brush aside the complaints of all those women who
claimed they were sexually harassed, allegedly, trying to make like they never happened.

                                "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered;
                                 the point is to discover them."-Galileo Galilei

The culture at Fox News was not unlike the one I encountered and experienced while working
for Fox Sports Net several years ago. I was an anchor for both the South and Arizona region,
as both were broadcast out of the Atlanta.

The news operation started from scratch with very little leadership and/or experience. Hunter
Nickell, the president and general manager, had never been part of a news operation. Steve
Craddock, his confidant and executive producer, knew about production, but didn't spend an
hour of his life in a newsroom.

The newsroom they constructed was Romper Room on steroids.

One day, a few clowns in the newsroom tried to play a prank on a fellow employee. They
constructed a full-page memo and posted it throughout the newsroom and office. The memo
attacked the person's character, family, job path, and made light of his ability with a reference
to Marv Albert. The memo was allowed to remain posted for six hours before the employee
came in.

Nickell shrugged it off as a "locker room" prank. That's fine and good, but this wasn't a
locker room. It was supposed to be a professional working environment. There isn't an
office anywhere in the country where that kind of behavior is tolerated. There isn't a human
resource department  that believes that's acceptable.

I was personal friends with the person who was on the wrong end of the memo. He admitted
to me that it ripped him to his core. He didn't sleep for six months. He'd come home from his
shift at 3 a.m. and admitted he stayed in bed until he had to go to bed until 4 p.m. when he had
to go to work. My friend said he had to go to therapy to work through the damage the memo
had done.

Former U.S. Senator Ted Danforth once said while eulogizing a close friend who had been
victimized by bullying and a smear campaign that he could no longer deal with:

"There’s a principle of law called the thin skull rule. It says that if you hurt someone
who is unusually susceptible to injury, you are liable even for the damages you didn’t
anticipate. The person who caused the injury must pay, not the person with the thin
skull. A good rule of law should be a good rule of politics. The bully should get the
blame not the victim."

Instead of doing what is right, Nickell and Craddock did what was right for themselves. Self-
preservation. They did little to assure my friend he'd be guaranteed a safe environment to
work in. Instead, they collected all the existing memos throughout the building and destroyed
them.They only cared about protecting themselves. They knew if corporate got wind of the
type of culture they had created, their jobs would be gone and the golden goose would go
along with it.

When my friend confronted Nickell on the situation and the memo, Nickell told my friend,
"It's been taken care of." Nickell didn't reprimand or suspend anyone in the office. He
just made like it never happened.

Both Nickell and Craddock declined repeated requests for comment on this story.

Making like things never happened was a skill Nickell had perfected. According to
one anchor who is still part of the Fox Regional Networks and chose not to be identified for
obvious reasons, Nickell once called a 'secret' meeting when one of the anchors called in sick.

"It was one of the most unbelievable things I ever experienced not only in television, but just
life in general," he said. "Hunter called in about 15 employees and asked them their opinion
of the anchor who called in sick. He gave them free reign to say whatever they wanted without
fear of repercussion. And they did. The guy wasn't even there to defend himself or call B.S.
on all the personal attacks. That's about as low as anything I've ever seen in the business."

I'm not sure that can be classified as doing what is right.

Things didn't end there at Fox Sports Net with Nickell.

Just over an hour before I was to anchor a show, I received a call that Michael Tardio, a
childhood friend of mine, had been brutally murdered in Los Angeles. His story was
documented in spectacular fashion on 48 Hours on CBS, titled, "Playing with
Fire." Check out The 48 Hours link.

As one can imagine, I was shocked, stunned, and in a state of utter disbelief.  However, I
still had several shows to anchor and couldn't let if affect my performance. I had to put on
the good face and do my job. Usually, when I get on the set, I joke around to lighten the
crew up.  I'm always pretty happy because, after all, I had a dream job anchoring sports.
However, I was quiet and not in any kind of mood to kid around after learning of my friend's
brutal death.

After I got off the set, I returned to my desk to find a derogatory note with a feminine
product attached to it. It was a prank that had gone way too far, especially with the discovery
that a childhood friend of mine, a person part of a family whom I've been friends with for more
than 40 years had been gunned down and lit on fire.

It had crossed well-beyond the line of a professional working environment. It violated nearly
every guideline for a safe environment in the company handbook.

Nickell, as usual, chose not to address the situation. He was more concerned with finding
a way to keep corporate from finding out about it. According to a longtime producer who
worked at Fox Sport Net, Nickell "destroyed the memo and didn't bother to address it with
the person who created it."

The producer went on to say, "Hunter made himself out to be this salt-of-the-earth guy. And
many people liked him. But he was in way over his head when it came to dealing with a
newsroom. Hunter knew about ad sales, marketing, and such but the only thing he knew about broadcast television was how to turn to the channel the network was on. And he was the kind of guy who believed that if nobody at corporate found out, then it didn't happen."

There were rules in place at Fox Sports Net. A glitzy company handbook was passed out to
employees to make sure they knew what was right and what was wrong. It's unfortunate
Hunter Nickell didn't bother to read it. Or perhaps, he just chose to make up the rules as he went
along. However, his number one rule always stayed in place: do what is right for me

The time is always right to do what is right.

From Penn State to Baylor and college campuses in-between, I've covered many of these
type of cover-up stories. Leaders and executives who believe they are above the rules and
the law, try to find a way to make those things that could potentially make them look bad, go
away.

When the truth doesn't fall in their favor or could shake the pole leading up to their lofty
perch, they run from it, or even worse, bury it, hoping that nobody ever finds out.

Instead of doing the right things for the victims of attacks, assaults, and rule-breaking pranks,
they do what is right for themselves and their careers.

Bill Shine found that out. So did Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly. Art Briles was a $4-million-a-year
coach, now he's forever unemployable with a reputation that came down quicker than a house of
cards. Joe Paterno? He was fired and destroyed a near perfect reputation. Same goes for the
administrators at Penn State. They made the mistake of doing the right thing for themselves
instead of what is right.

Many of these people are like the Wizard of Oz. They talk a big game and are real tough
behind a shield or façade. But once you pull back the curtain, we find out just how small
and arrogant they really are. We see how they build great public images but then discover
their content of character is beyond foul and wretched.

They end up getting exposed for what they truly are: cowards.

                                        Cowards die many times before their deaths;
                                          The valiant never taste of death but once.

                                                                                               -Shakespeare









Monday, May 9, 2016

DEAR HUNTER NICKELL...


Dear Hunter,

Congratulations on your new job with Raycom Sports!

For someone who started his career as a high school hockey coach and history teacher
becoming CEO of a great company like Raycom is truly a great accomplishment.
What's even more impressive is that you landed the position after "resigning" recently
from Fox and IMG and were out of work for more than a year.

Man, that is talent!

I did want to pass a few suggestions to help keep you from "resigning" again.
Perhaps, these helpful hints will allow you to stay in your lofty perch for more than a
couple of years.

BE A TRUE LEADER
A lofty title doesn't automatically make someone a good leader. Make decisions based
on the facts, not because of popular opinion or simply because it's the popular thing to
do. That is what most in the world call "followers." or "sheep." Leaders aren't easily
influenced by gossip, backstabbers, or second-hand stories. Do your own homework
and suppress the urge to do what most "followers" in the business world do and that's
rely on the cliff notes version of the events.

DON'T COVER THINGS UP
Art Briles and Kenneth Starr at Baylor found this out the hard way. It's not a good thing
to cover things up or ignore issues. If employees post a full-page memo attacking
the career, character, and beliefs of a co-worker, do the right thing. Do not do the
right thing just for yourself.

Don't destroy the memo that was posted throughout the office and make like it never
happened. I understand it wouldn't look good to your superiors that type of behavior
occurred on your watch, but you have a responsibility, both morally and professionally,
to do what is right. You took care of the people who committed the offensive act and
ignored the people who were offended. That really isn't much different than the victims
who went to Baylor officials about being violated only to see the offenders protected.

Can you imagine the pain and embarrassment those women at Baylor have to live
with for the rest of their lives?

I guess you've lived by the motto Baylor so desperately tried to: If nobody finds
out then it really didn't happen.

Incredibly, another incident arises where co-workers create a derogatory note and
then attach a feminine product and put it on a co-workers desk. This happened on your
watch. You created an environment for this type of behavior to occur. Once again,
you destroyed the memo trying to make like it never happened. Baylor.

BE STRONG
No great, or even a competent leader,  has ever called a meeting and allowed
co-workers to talk about others. That's beyond cowardly. Inviting them into
a room and allow them to rail againt a co-worker without fear of repercussion is a
disgrace. That's almost beyond comprehension. Everybody can be real brave in that
type of situation, especially towards people who work harder, care more about the
company, and make more money than them.

It's almost like allowing the bench warmers to cut-down the best and most committed
players on the team.

BE ALERT
If somebody comes into your office making a complaint about a co-worker, be aware
they probably have some kind of agenda of their own. Most of the time, co-workers
won't come to your office though, they will take the cowardly way out and write an
e-mail that makes a co-worker look bad. Plus, they won't be in jeopardy of having
anyone seeing that "lying look" on their faces.

REMEMBER, THERE ARE ALWAYS TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY.
I always tell management that if someone makes a complaint about a co-worker, they
should make it mandatory for that person to CC the co-worker they are making a
complaint about. You see, people are often real brave when they don't have to face
their accuser. They can stretch the truth or use a great imagination to tell the story that's
clearly in their favor and make derogatory statements about their co-worker that could
jeopardize their career and livelihood. Real leaders would tell the complainer to
hold on, and then bring the person he's criticizing into the office. Things would be
very much different that way. The foundation of journalism is to get both sides
of the story. Imagine that?

HAVE THE SAME RULES FOR EVERYBODY.
Real leaders don't have rules for different people and they certainly don't make them
up as they go along. If you are not going to follow the company handbook on procedures
in the workplace, then it'd be a good idea to put your own rules in writing. For example,
if a co-worker spends company time to print a full-page memo attacking the character
of another co-worker and then posts it throughout the office, you probably should
reprimand or perhaps even suspend that person. In most companies, that person would
be terminated on the spot.

If you suspend a person for something he "allegedly" said, but there isn't proof , like
say a memo posted throughout the office, and don't even bother to ask him for his side
of the story, that would be called unfair. In some places, it may even be called "gutless."


DON'T BE STUPID
If a co-worker comes to your office to make a complaint about someone who is no
longer there, tell them it has nothing to do with the company and for them to call the
police if the accusation he made, truly happened. Or tell the weasel to man up and
take care of himself. Better yet, just laugh at the person and tell him what he truly
is: a coward.

Hunter, these small but helpful hints, should help you in your new job. I certainly
hope you take them into consideration.

Sincerely,
PD

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

FOX SPORTS, HARASSMENT, AND THE DAMAGE


Just when we think bullying, harassment, and vile unprofessional behavior in this \
country is subsiding, more examples arise that validate the real problem that is.

Missouri state auditor Tom Schweich killed himself after an ugly campaign became
too much to take for the Harvard-educated politician.

Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling went after trolls on the Internet who
made vile and despicable comments about his daughter.

The residue of the Miami Dolphins harassment case where Jonathan Martin, a
grown man who had to withstand bullying from other grown men and teammates
is still being felt in the NFL.

Every time these incidents of workplace harassment, bullying, and otherwise
unprofessional behavior comes up in our society, it brings back painful memories
of my experience at Fox Sports Net in Atlanta.

When I started working for Fox Sports Net, I was a seasoned sports anchor with
more than 10 years experience and had just worked in Boston, which is a top-10 market.
In all my stops in television, I had never experienced an environment like the one
in Atlanta, which was managed by Hunter Nickell and Steve Craddock, two executives
who didn't have an ounce of experience in broadcast news or running a newsroom.

What I encountered was the most unprofessional newsroom, I had ever worked in.
The personal attacks against me were beyond decency and ones that no employee
should ever have to experience in the workplace. They've affected my life, career, and
well-being long after they occurred. I always chuckle when the critics say, "Move on,
it happened years ago." Sorry, it's just not that easy.

There isn't enough space on here to list all the personal attacks that occurred at Fox
Sports Net during my time there but these are the major ones:

Co-workers produced a full-page memo attacking my family, character, and livelihood
and posted it throughout the office. It crossed the line of "locker room" humor and
a good prank. It was embarrassing, humiliating, and vile. I didn't get in until 4:30 p.m.
and management didn't see it necessary to take it down until I saw it.

After I returned back to Atlanta from New York, attending a funeral of a childhood
friend, Michael Tardio, who was not only shot to death in Los Angeles, but his car was
set on fire. I was pretty solemn and emotional on the anchor desk, staying quiet and to
myself. My co-workers thought it would be funny to place a feminine product on my
desk with a note attached saying, "Here, take this, it'll  put you in a better mood."

That is what you call an unprofessional working environment. Management did nothing.

One of directors, Mike Farnsworth, thought he'd be funny after I was asked if I wanted
to place a food order after one of the shows saying, "Paul doesn't want anything but his
mom wants a dick sandwich because that's the way she likes." Yes, I wanted to knock
him threw the wall, but I knew that would get me fired. Management heard about it, yet
did nothing, again.

Co-anchor Ken Rodriquez said live on the air, "Paul is so tight you can't squeeze a greased
wire through any orifice on his body." Really? Embarrassing and denigrated a co-worker
on the air? Nice. What did management do? Nothing, of course.

I was an athlete my entire life. I had been in a locker room culture at UNC and in the
Red Sox organization that was as tough as any I ever experienced. I had thick skin
and was used to pranks, cut downs, and  being embarrassed. That's how it went. Upper
classmen tested your toughness and resiliency. They wanted to see which guys they
could trust and play with when the game was on the line. I got it. As painful as it was,
the freshman endured it.

I expected it in sports. I certainly did not in what was supposed to be a professional
working environment at Fox. Nobody should've had to endure those type of attacks in
the  workplace, especially one with tight deadlines where you have to perform on live
television four times a day.

The personal attacks at work sent me close to going over the edge. I was doing four
half- hour shows a day, arriving at 4:30 p.m. and leaving at 2:30 a.m. We produced
and anchored Arizona's news from Atlanta so the time change was a challenge. I stayed
in bed every day until 3:30 p.m when it was time to go to work. I was exhausted, which
was a by-product of depression.

I went to the hospital from exhaustion and panic attacks. My doctor looked at me
and said, "Did something happen at work?" I was too embarrassed and humiliated to tell
him the truth that I worked at a place that allowed these type of things to happen.

I was an athlete and I wasn't raised to run and be a tattletale. I never went into the coaches
office to complain about another player. In the world of sports, it was taboo. You don't
throw your teammates under the bus. If anyone found out you sold a teammate out, you'd
be ostracized for the remainder of your career there. But the attacks seared my soul and
made it uncomfortable to be there.

I loved my job and I was dedicated to help building Fox Sports Net into the powerful
brand it is today. I took pride in never missing a day of working and being accountable,
dependable, and the hardest-working anchor there. I worked six days a week for two
straight years and didn't blink when they asked me to work 28 consecutive days. I loved it.
But I could've done without the personal attacks.

When I was reading about the suicide of Schweich, I couldn't help be absorb the words
of former Senator John Danworth who eulogized his friend:

"There’s a principle of law called the thin skull rule. It says that if you hurt someone
who is unusually susceptible to injury, you are liable even for the damages you didn’t
anticipate. The person who caused the injury must pay, not the person with the thin
skull. A good rule of law should be a good rule of politics. The bully should get the
blame not the victim."

If I had thin skin I would have run and complained to management, who often rewarded,
inconceivably, those who ratted on their co-workers. They did not create a professional
working newsroom. What they produced was pure Romper Room. It couldn't be called
anything but that. I was more interested in putting out a great product every day for
every show. Hunter Nickell, Steve Craddock, and Rebecca Schulte had absolutely no
concept of that.

A day doesn't go by when I don't think how I was treated there and I often regret not
taking action. I often feel like I should've walked out just as Jonathan Martin did after
the harassment he endured in the Dolphins locker room. I wish I had made management
change their policy and clean up an environment that was more akin to kindergarten than
a professional newsroom. I often think I should've have sued them because Lord knows,
I had enough ammunition to do so.

But I wasn't like that. And in this case, it hurt me.

After all this happened, management turned around and suspended me. I was anchoring
a show by myself and the producer had left at least 40 percent of the show empty with
just under 20 minutes to go before air. At any other legitimate network or station, that
producer would've been fired on the spot for putting the reputation, credibility, and
integrity of the network in jeopardy because he didn't do his job. He had eight hours
to do it, but spent most of the that time was spent updating his roster for fantasy football
with another co-worker.

I wasn't pleased because asking an anchor to go on the air with 40 percent of the show
not finished is as a stressful situation as there in television. I asked him why he was
playing fantasy football when the show wasn't done. He gave me a wise-ass answer
and I gave him one back. I winged the show as best as I could and moved on. He e-mailed
management and said I got mad at him. For some reason, he left out the part out about
him playing fantasy football on company time and leaving the show unfinished.

The next day I came in to work and management suspended me. They didn't ask
what happened or bothered to hear both sides of the stories. Most managers worth
their salt would've brought both guys into the room and asked what happened.
Not in Atlanta. That would've taken an ounce of courage. They just sent me home,
no questions asked. Didn't even allow me to defend myself, although, I certainly
don't know why anybody would have to defend themselves against such silly
allegations.

This was after all the hard and tangible examples management had seen of the
harassment I endured while I was there. And they did nothing. They ducked their
heads in the sand when someone did something against me, but as soon as some
young producer writes them an e-mail, I get suspended. It was beyond comical.
Double-standard, maybe? Good grief. Talk about empty leadership

And then when they decided not to renew my contract, they smeared my reputation
on the way out. My co-anchor, Brad Steinke, who was as manipulating of a person
as there's ever been in the history of television, called me to say he was sorry I got
fired. I wasn't in the mood so I made the conversation quick and hung up. He called
back and said, "Nobody hangs up on Brad Steinke. Do you know how many Emmy's
I've won? You deserved to get fired!"..

I was in disbelief. Here is a 45-year-old "man" calling like a teenage girl and leaving
a message on my machine. Steinke, realizing he made a mistake by leaving that
message on my machine, started bad-mouthing me to management and making up
lies that a person with an I.Q. over three would not believe. But of course, they
bought them hook, line, and sinker and the smear campaign continued. None of
them had the courage to take a call or speak to me, but they just took Steinke's
word as gospel.

Sad. It was truly sad.

I've had to live with the effects of the smear campaign and I can tell you, it hasn't
been easy. I've had to live with the ridiculous harassment that I endured there because
management didn't have the guts to do the right thing. Nope, instead, they destroyed
all the evidence that I presented to them so the executives at headquarters in Los Angeles
wouldn't get wind of their negligence and incompetence. They knew if upper management
figured out their "style", they'd be out on the street.

Nope, so they buried evidence and smeared my reputation. People often ask me why
I didn't sue the company. First of all, I'm not into lawsuits and didn't want to go that
route. I loved Fox Sports Net and everything they stood for. I invested so much time,
energy, and passion into helping making it a great product.

I was advised not to file suit because it would've taken years and Fox, being the
powerful brand that it was, could've drawn things out to where I became broke. I also
didn't want to have the reputation of suing a company because I never would've been
hired by anybody else in the broadcast business. That stuff follows you.

Unfortunately, the lies about me tagged on to me as well. So did the effects of being
humiliated and embarrassed like I was. It's not something that goes away overnight.
It keeps you up and sears your soul and poisons the mind. It's sad, really.

Hunter Nickell, Steve Craddock, and Rebecca Schulte didn't do the right thing, but
rather just did the right thing for themselves.

You could search the country long and hard to try to find someone to believe the lies
the people at Fox made up about me. Unfortunately for me, Brad Steinke found two
of them who worked within 20 feet of each other.

Why am I writing this now? Because I don't want anybody to ever have to endure what
I experienced. No person in life should have to deal with the harassment and humiliation
in the workplace like I did.

I don't want anyone to have to go through what I, unnecessarily, had to go through. The
pain has been unbearable at times and just doesn't go away. I have tried to be the bigger
man and forgive Hunter Nickell, Steve Craddock, and Rebecca Schulte. Unfortunately,
they are having trouble with the truth and continue to run away from the mistakes they
made and are not big enough to admit them.

I still am holding out hope that Nickell, Craddock, Schulte and Fox Sports Net will take
responsibility for their actions one day.

As Senator Danworth elaborated in his eulogy of Schweich, "Words do hurt. Words can
kill. That has been proven right here in our home state."

People everywhere should understand that, especially at Fox Sports Net. I would never
kill myself because of words. I am too strong for that, but I can tell you, they cut deep,
no matter how strong a person is.