Why anchor Kelly Wright came forward about alleged racial discrimination at Fox News

Kelly Wright accuses Fox News
Kelly Wright accuses Fox News 06:55

Kelly Wright, the only black male anchor on Fox News, is speaking out about alleged racial discrimination at the cable channel. His claims are part of a class action lawsuit filed this week against Fox News where at least 11 current and former employees accuse executives of fostering a "culture of severe racial harassment." The suit says Fox News ignored their complaints for years.

Fox News anchor Kelly Wright (L) and attorney Douglas Wigdor CBS News

Fox News "vehemently" denies the claims and said in a statement: "They are copycat complaints of the original one filed last month. We will vigorously defend these cases." 

The accusations against the network follow controversy surrounding former star anchor Bill O'Reilly, who was fired last week for alleged sexual harassment, and the ousting of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes after a sexual harassment suit last summer. 

Wright said he decided to come forward after being "grieved" by what he heard from others at Fox News.

Bill O'Reilly "shaken" after firing 03:06

"I thought about collectively how behind the scenes many of us have gone to the water cooler, around our computers, and we've talked about not just their plight, but the plight of other people of color at the company and how there have been remarks like, 'Gee, Kelly, if you were blond, you could probably anchor full time here Monday through Friday,'" Wright said Thursday, only on "CBS This Morning." "Comments like that began to really sting me especially when I was trying to work within the framework of the company, talking to my leader saying, 'Look, we're better than this, we can do better than this, even from a sound business decision, let's reach out to all people, and I'm raising my hands as the only black male anchor you have right now to say, put me in the game, give me opportunities to do more,' and I thought we were really going to try to do that.'" 

Some of the accusations in the lawsuit were against former comptroller Judith Slater.

Fox News racial discrimination suit 03:58

"Judy Slater would have black people trying to arm wrestle," attorney Douglas Wigdor alleged. "When people would say good night to her, she would put up her hands and say, 'Don't shoot,' mocking the Black Lives Matter movement. She would say things like, somebody who had three kids, 'Are they fathered by the same person?"

On his end, Wright said he repeatedly raised his complaints to the leaders at Fox News, and "at some point they even agreed" with him. "You're actually sitting across the table, you're agreeing with me that we should have a program that talks about hope. That we should have a program that lifts up all boats and we don't just negatively focus on what's happens that's wrong in the black community or Latino community, but we can also show positive things that are going on in those communities to turn the negativity around," Wright said.

But ultimately, Wright said Fox News has not "effectively pursued… diversity and inclusion of all people." Holding onto his faith, Wright pointed to the larger picture of the racial divide in the country.

"I trust and believe that God through all of this will get glory out of this by unifying not just employees at Fox News but this country. This racial divide is going on – yeah, we can talk about Fox News, but it's happening everywhere," Wright said. "And we as Americans have got to start standing up and saying, enough is enough. I hope the R word, racism, will become like the N word and never used in our vocabulary ever again."