Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Did Thomas Roberts "amicably leave" yet another job because he was a big gossip queen?

Yesterday I linked to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that said when Thomas Roberts arrived at WGCL (Atlanta) in the summer of 2018, he became close to co-anchor Sharon Reed, a rather divisive figure in the newsroom. Then in December, some messages he wrote with Reed -- apparently the gal pals liked to pass notes back and forth while anchoring newscasts -- leaked to the website FTVLive. It seems the duo liked to gossip about people on staff, including then-chief meteorologist Paul Ossmann.

AJC reports that Roberts said some of the comments were taken out of context and perceived as disparaging. In an interview in June, he said he felt terrible about the "misunderstanding" and apologized directly to Ossmann after the notes went public. That entire episode didn't sit well with many in the newsroom and created awkwardness with some producers. Ossmann left abruptly in April with no explanation, later suing the network.* A few weeks later, with Reed’s contract up, she announced her departure.

Now my sources are telling me that after Roberts got in tight with Reed, it didn’t sit well with the part of the newsroom that hated her. That’s how “note gate” happened -- and he ended up alienating swaths of the newsroom. He also came to CBS46 from MSNBC and some believe that his ego was bruised working for a fourth-place station in Atlanta after being national all those years. On top of this, I'm hearing he didn’t exactly work more than he was supposed to. One person told me he "wasn’t in there suggesting fresh story ideas or new takes on things. He came in just before he was supposed to and was not around much between newscasts." I'm told he did his job pleasantly, then went home. After Reed left, the sense was he felt a bit isolated. And given how much he was said to be being paid -- reportedly $800,000!!! -- management decided to cut him loose early in a mutually agreed upon departure. One person familiar with the situation estimates he had at least another 10 months on his contract but they probably negotiated some sort of happy settlement. And they had him say he left voluntarily to save face.

So the big question is: What's next for Thomas Roberts?

*Ossman sued the network because he thought he was let go to make room for a Hispanic woman. (Straight white men and their obsession with "reverse discrimination.") But the network fired back saying he was terminated “for cause based on multiple complaints from female co-workers of conduct that violated our workplace policies."(!)

AJC: Rick Folbaum (Fox News, CNN International) is new CBS46 anchor, replacing Thomas Roberts