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Dr. Phil show accused of having a toxic workplace with intimidation, guest manipulation and racism

  • Buzzfeed's Krystie Lee Yandoli, who in summer 2020 exposed toxic workplace conditions at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, found a similar environment while speaking to current and former Dr. Phil employees. As in the case of Ellen DeGeneres, Yandoli didn't find complaints of bad behavior on Phil McGraw's part. "After rising to stardom on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the 1990s, Dr. Phil has built an empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars on helping improve people’s mental health, dispensing advice to guests on his talk show in his trademark brand of snarky straight talk," writes Yandoli. "But behind the scenes, a dozen current and former employees say they experienced verbal abuse in a workplace that fosters fear, intimidation, and racism. Seven of the employees also say guests, who are often brought onto the show when they’re already in a vulnerable state, are manipulated and treated unethically. Despite working on a TV show that purports to help improve people’s lives, 11 of the employees — all of whom asked to remain anonymous because they fear retaliation and retribution — say their own mental health was damaged and disrupted at the expense of working for Phil McGraw." Yandoli adds that none of the people she spoke with "witnessed McGraw directly engaging in the sort of toxic and abusive behavior they said they experienced from others on the set or believe that he even saw the abuse. However, two current and 10 former employees on his show said it was common to be screamed at and berated by executive producer Carla Pennington and other senior-level staffers...Seven of the employees said they were encouraged to perpetuate racist stereotypes onscreen, while two others alleged they experienced racism behind the scenes. In text messages reviewed by BuzzFeed News, employees also expressed concerns about booking guests with a history of mental illness and not feeling adequately prepared to work with them...One former employee said they were even instructed to make sure a guest on the show didn’t take her prescribed medication." "How can he not know?” said 31-year-old Tiffany Clark, who was part of Paramount Pictures’ rotating page program, which included work on Dr. Phil, from 2019 until 2020." Asked for comment, attorneys for McGraw and Pennington denied all allegations. “Dr. McGraw categorically denies racist conduct and CBS does not tolerate racist conduct,” McGraw’s attorney H. Patrick Morris. A spokesperson for Dr. Phil added in a statement that McGraw and his “diverse team of more than 200 proud staff, many of whom have been here for two decades, have sincerely and respectfully worked with thousands of appreciative guests.” UPDATE: Phil McGraw's attorney calls Buzzfeed's article "a clickbait story": “It is 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 for the program and doesn’t get involved in staff relations, but the staff at the program in no way uses ethnic origin such as described.”

    TOPICS: Dr. Phil, Carla Pennington, Phil McGraw, Daytime TV