Lee Abrams suspended at Tribune for racy memo


Just days after a front page article in the New York Times accused Tribune Company of having a “bankrupt culture” steeped in sexism, Tribune Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams sent out an email Monday with a link to bawdy video. He has now been suspended.

According to media columnist Phil Rosenthal at the flagship Chicago Tribune – and thus a recipient of employee emails – one video that the Abrams email linked to was “labeled ‘Sluts’ in which a gyrating woman appeared to pour liquor on her bare breasts.”

Abrams quickly issued an apology, but the new controversy was the last thing the company needed as it tries to nail down its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A Tribune company spokesman confirmed to RBR-TVBR Wednesday that Abrams had been suspended. The company is making no other public comment. However, the suspension announcement from CEO Randy Michaels is readily available from employees.

“Message from Randy Michaels/Lee Abrams Suspended

I want to let you know that today we made the decision to suspend Lee Abrams from his position as Tribune’s Chief Innovation Officer.  He will remain on suspension indefinitely and without pay while we review the circumstances surrounding the email and video link he distributed on Monday.   We’re in the process of determining further disciplinary action.

Lee recognizes that the video was in extremely bad taste and that it offended employees—he has also apologized publicly.  He reiterated those feelings again to me privately today.  But, this is the kind of serious mistake that can’t be tolerated; we intend to address it promptly and forcefully.

As I said last week, a creative culture must be built on a foundation of respect.  Our culture is not about being offensive or hurtful.  We encourage employees to speak up when they see or hear something that they find offensive, as a number of employees did with regard to this particular email.  I can assure you, you will be heard.