CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – Tribune Company chief innovation officer Lee Abrams has resigned, following a fracas that stemmed from a raunchy company-wide e-mail he sent.
Abrams resigned on Friday, according to several published reports. He had been suspended earlier in the week for sending the e-mail, which contained links to several video clips that other staffers considered inappropriate.
On Friday Tribune Co. chief executive officer Randy Michaels announced Abrams’ resignation. As quoted in media critic Robert Feder’s column on Vocalo.org, Michaels told staff: “Today, Lee offered his resignation and I accepted it. Effective immediately, Lee will no longer be an employee of Tribune.”
Michaels previously called Abrams’ e-mail a “serious mistake that can’t be tolerated.”
One of the video links in Abrams’ e-mail was labeled “Sluts,” and featured a gyrating woman who appeared to pour liquor over her bare breasts, Tribune columnist Phil Rosenthal reported.
The memo also included links to videos from The Onion, featuring an assortment of mock newscasts, Rosenthal reported. The clips included a satirical panel discussion about how educators need to accept that “students don’t give a (expletive),” and a fictional report about the crash of a bus full of reality show contestants, which is described as “spilling more than 2,000 pounds of slut,” Rosenthal reported. The video about the bus crash features women kissing and grinding against each other.
Radio industry veteran Abrams was appointed to the position in 2008 and put in charge of print, broadcast and online innovation.
The suspension is one more headache for Tribune, owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other media properties, as it struggles to emerge from bankruptcy protection after nearly two years.
The e-mail quickly prompted complaints from Tribune Editor Gerould Kern, who called it “offensive” and “completely inappropriate.”
Kern told Rosenthal that some other employees also complained about the e-mail. He took it to the human resources department.
The Tribune reports Abrams apologized “to everyone who was offended” in another company-wide e-mail Tuesday.
Abrams said the Onion videos had been shown to staffers who came to a creative meeting for a new morning TV program, but that the clips in question were “not something that we would ever air on our TV stations – in fact quite the opposite,” Rosenthal reported.
Abrams also conceded that it was “very inappropriate” to send links to the videos all around the company, and said he asked the Tribune Company to delete the e-mail from its servers, Rosenthal reported.