Two of KCBS-TV Channel 2's heavyweights squared off in what eyewitnesses characterized as a "volatile shoving match" in the middle of the station's newsroom Wednesday evening.
Michael Tuck, KCBS' principal male anchor, confirmed Thursday that he was separated and pulled away from a confrontation with his boss, news director John Lippman, after shoving Lippman in the chest.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday January 30, 1993 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 13 Column 6 Entertainment Desk 2 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong peacemaker--Several KCBS Channel 2 news staffers said that reporters Dr. Howard Torman and Jodi Baskerville, not sportscaster Jim Hill, broke up the angry shoving match in the KCBS newsroom Wednesday between anchor Michael Tuck and news director John Lippman.
One witness reported that Tuck, though a bit shorter and four years older than Lippman, 43, was by far the more aggressive and riled when KCBS sportscaster Jim Hill grabbed him and pulled him away.
In an interview Thursday, Lippman downplayed the incident as simply a passionate discussion about news content that is common at KCBS and other news organizations.
According to several eyewitnesses, the argument ensued when Lippman asked Tuck to ad-lib an update on a bank robbery/hostage story toward the end of the station's 5 p.m. news because the station had obtained fresh videotape of the ongoing crime scene.
Tuck, who was in the newsroom preparing to anchor the 6 p.m. newscast, said that he refused because he had not been following the story and was "ill-prepared to say anything factual about it."
Lippman insisted, but Tuck would not give in. Tuck tried to get away from the news director, but Lippman followed Tuck around the newsroom and to other parts of the building, saying, "Go. Go. Go."
Tuck returned to the newsroom and sat back down at his computer terminal to review his script for the 6 p.m. newscast. Lippman followed him and then put both hands on Tuck's back, saying "Come on," prompting Tuck to stand up and tell Lippman to "get out of my face." When Lippman continued to yell at him to go on the air, Tuck shoved Lippman with two hands in the chest. Hill, a former NFL football player, then grabbed Tuck and pulled him outside.
The update was not done and Tuck went on the air as scheduled about 10 minutes later at 6 p.m.
"He said he pushed me?" Lippman asked when questioned about the incident. "I didn't even notice. Discussions and disagreements go on here and in every newsroom. It's part of the creative process, especially as deadline nears. We had a lively, intense discussion. Passions happen. This is news, not an assembly line, and this is a place where people have creative input and discussions are common. There is nothing to this."
Tuck said that he later hashed things out with Lippman in a phone conversation.
"It was just a fluke thing," Tuck said. "John and I have always gotten along very well and we pledged not to let this kind of thing happen in the future."