Dr. Phill Toxic Workplace and Verbal Abuse: CBS Responds to Claims

Patrick Morris, Phil McGraw’s personal attorney, speaks out against accusations of a toxic work environment against long-running talk show ‘Dr. Phil. A dozen current and former employees of the long-running series date spoke to BuzzFeed News about the verbal abuse, fear, bullying and racism they faced behind the scenes of the production.

“It’s a clickbait story, because as everyone knows, Dr. Phil sells tickets,” Morris said in a statement to Variety. “BuzzFeed was offered dozens of current and former staff members to talk to, but when BuzzFeed started hearing the truth, which ruined their salacious narrative, they declined. Dr. Phil focuses on content program and does not engage in staff relations, but program staff do not use ethnicity as described in any way.

A ViacomCBS spokesperson recounts Variety that “creating safe and inclusive work environments is a top priority” for “Dr. Phil,” parent company, adding, “We offer several ways that employees can report complaints to the company both formally and anonymously,” the ViacomCBS spokesperson said. “We encourage any employee who feels they have been treated unfairly or others within the company to report it without fear of retaliation. We take all such reports seriously.

In addition to toxic workplace claims, seven of the employees accused “Dr. Phil” to manipulate the show’s guests who are already in a vulnerable state. A former employee reportedly received instructions to ensure a guest on the show did not take their prescribed medication.

“We were specifically told, ‘Make sure she doesn’t take her meds before you go on stage,’ because they wanted her to look unsteady and quote-unquote, ‘crazy,’ for lack of a better term,” the employee said. BuzzFeed News. “She took the meds because nobody showed up in time and I remember thinking, ‘God, I don’t want to be the one to tell them or talk them out of it.’ And it’s all for the sake of TV Obviously this girl should be on her meds and that’s why we’re trying to get her help but for the sake of TV they wanted her look off the tracks.

Seven employees also accused “Dr. Phil” of encouraging them to perpetuate racist stereotypes on screen. None of the current or former employees who spoke to BuzzFeed News witnessed “Dr. Phil” host Phil McGraw being toxic or abusive on set. The majority of employees identified executive producer Carla Pennington and other high-profile personnel as verbally abusive. But Tiffany Clark, a 31-year-old woman who was part of Paramount Pictures’ page-turning program and worked on “Dr. Phil” said, “How can he not know?”

A “Dr. Phil” spokesperson gave Variety the following statement:

“Buzzfeed’s click bait story containing verifiable and objectively false characterizations and publicly available conflicting outcome reports of these legal cases [including dismissal with prejudice due to a lack of merit, not even being a party and other factual errors] raises significant doubts about the credibility of other unsubstantiated anonymous claims about the show and its staff, which are not true. Buzzfeed has received dozens and dozens of attributed fact reports, from current and past staff. Verifiable data contradicting the whole premise of their “anonymously attributed”, sensationalized and baseless article.

“’Dr. Phil’ and our diverse and hardworking team of over 200 proud employees, many of whom have been here for two decades, have sincerely and respectfully worked with thousands of grateful guests. From the outset, show leaders have strived to create a collaborative, safe and open environment for Dr. Phil McGraw and all staff and guests. We are grateful for the overwhelming number of proud and dedicated colleagues who have helped achieve our continued success over the program’s 20 seasons and many more to come.

BuzzFeed reps haven’t returned yet Variety request for comment.

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