One-time WABC-TV Anchor Charles Perez Blasts Former Colleagues In New Book

Charles Perez, who only spent two years at WABC/Channel 7, was believed to be groomed for the main anchor gig.

In his new book, Confessions of a Gay Anchorman, Perez discusses his coming out and how his TV gigs were affected by it.

For the chapter on his stint at WABC, (lasting all of 12 pages), however, Perez’s focus was not on his sexuality, at least not on the surface.

But Perez, hardly a memorable name in the annals of Eyewitness News history, took one jab after another at his former colleagues.

“To me it’s not about any of the people I mentioned,” Perez tells FishbowlNY. “It was about how shocked I was to get to a place that I thought was going to be about professionalism and journalism. In my experience, it was about ego more than anything. It was a culture of inflated egos and inefficiency,”

In the book, Perez calls WABC’s shop “by far the most overstaffed facility I’d ever worked in.”

In response, Perez joked, “How many people does it take to put in a light bulb?”

Faced with breaking news, Perez says he was forced to be at the cameraman’s beck and call.

“I could sit down there waiting for a photographer for a freaking hour and a half before he would actually get in the truck and pull out,” Perez alleges. “Everybody was moving like snails.”

Large newsrooms and inactivity notwithstanding, Perez just wanted honesty.

“WABC, I felt like they were pretending they were something that they weren’t,” Perez says.

“I’m not a believer in sacred cows. I don’t believe somebody is so untouchable that you can’t have a reasonable conversation with them,” Perez says. “But there I found that there are sacred cows.”

Arguably, heading the station’s “sacred cow” list was Sam Champion, at the time the main weatherman (and now with Good Morning America).

As referenced in his book, Perez recalls filling in as anchor one weeknight. Leading into the weather segment, Perez talked about tornadoes in the Midwest. After the next break, Perez writes that Champion blew up, hurling several expletives at him and adding, “The weather’s mine, not yours!”

“Even writing it, I thought, ‘Do I want to go here?’ Because it could be perceived as a catty, gay man on gay man, cat fight,” Perez says. “And it’s not. It was never a cat fight.” 

Perez says sexuality aside, he and Champion, are just “cut from very difficult cloths.”

Perez writes that following that tiff with Champion, he was brought into the office of news director Kenny Plotnik. According to Perez, Plotnik told him, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Right or wrong, Sam wins. The station’s investment is in Sam.”

“I was very disturbed by the lengths to which people there, including Sam, would go to whack me,” Perez tells FishbowlNY.

Perez, in the book, takes Champion to task with anchor Liz Cho. He says that the duo were notorious for taking long dinner breaks between newscasts, and returning with bags from Bergdorf Goodman and Jimmy Choo at 10 p.m.

“Well, it’s one thing to take your three-hour dinner break and quite another to, in essence, rub the fact into everyone’s face,” Perez writes.

Perez also documented his initial on-air appearance with veteran anchor Diana Williams.

“The first time I sat next to Diana at the anchor desk, I felt the cut of her knife,” Perez writes. “I was suddenly swimming with the sharks, and I was naively unprepared.”

Perez says he has received calls and emails from former (and some current) WABC staffers thanking him “for speaking the truth.”