CBS News’ Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews getting free speech award after Catherine Herridge firing

The CBS News boss who signed off on the controversial ouster of Catherine Herridge — a respected Washington correspondent who has been embroiled in a high-profile First Amendment case — is nevertheless being honored with a free speech award next month.

CBS News president Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews was selected by Radio Television Digital News Association to be among 13 honorees at the 33rd annual First Amendment Awards at The Watergate Hotel in Washington DC on March 9.

The irony was not lost on CBS News insiders who cited the fact that the exec was played a role in pushing out Herridge — an award-winning investigative reporter who is under pressure from a US District Court judge for not revealing how she learned about a federal probe into a Chinese American scientist.

The RTDNA faces backlash for honoring CBS News president Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, who green-lit the ousting of Catherine Herridge, the reporter embroiled in a high-stakes First Amendment case. Getty Images

Herridge may soon be held in contempt of court for not divulging her source for an investigative piece she penned in 2017 when she worked for Fox News and be ordered to personally pay fines that could total as much as $5,000 a day.

“The RTDNA must be tone deaf to give Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews and CBS News an award for the First Amendment,” said a longtime journalist. “It tarnishes the whole meaning of the award.”

The Post reached out to inquire whether the RTDNA Foundation was rethinking honoring Ciprian-Matthews.

In its response, the foundation declined to comment specifically on the Herridge controversy.

“The Foundation selected Ciprián-Matthews for her commitment to excellent and ethical journalism, especially at a time when the stakes are so high,” said president Dan Shelley. “Her leadership during some of the most challenging news stories in American history is a testament to the power of journalism.”

Last week, CBS parent Paramount announced it will lay off around 800 people at the debt-saddled company, including roughly 20 from CBS News.

A CBS source said the decision to oust Herridge was made by higher ups in the Washington D.C. bureau, where the reporter was based.

Ciprian-Matthews and other company execs approved of the decision, the person said.

“This restructuring does not in any way reflect on or diminish Ingrid’s well-deserved and outstanding journalistic record,” said a rep for CBS News, who called the news president “a highly regarded executive with decades of experience upholding the highest values of journalism.”

Investigative journalist Herridge was let go two weeks ago to the surprise of CBS News staffers. Catherine Herridge/X

“Ms. Herridge was one of more than 700 people impacted on Feb. 13 at Paramount and dozens more from other news organizations enduring mass layoffs in Washington in the last few months including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Vice, Vox, the Messenger and more,” the rep continued.

Nevertheless, critics ripped the network and Ciprian-Matthews for allowing Herridge to get swept up in the mass culling.

“She was pursuing stories that were unwelcomed by the Biden White House and many Democratic powerhouses, including the Hur report on Joe Biden’s diminished mental capacity, the Biden corruption scandal and the Hunter Biden laptop,” Jonathan Turley, a legal scholar and a former CBS legal analyst, recently wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill

The revelation comes as the House Judiciary Committee has launched an investigation into Herridge’s termination, as well as the handling of her files after she was let go.

CBS News retained Herridge’s personal files, which contained confidential information on her legal case, as well as stories she had worked on, among other things.

Facing mounting pressure from the House Judiciary Committee and SAG-AFTRA, the union representing the journalist, CBS News returned the files on Monday.

As previously reported by The Post, Herridge has run into “internal roadblocks” at the network as she covered the Hunter Biden laptop story.

Sources said Herridge had encountered roadblocks from higher-ups at CBS News as she covered the Hunter Biden laptop story. Getty Images

She also clashed with Ciprian-Matthews, a sharp-elbowed executive who was investigated in 2021 over favoritism and discriminatory hiring and management practices, as revealed by The Post in January.

Indeed, sources speculated that Herridge’s firing could be retaliatory, as the correspondent sparked the 2021 investigation against Ciprian-Matthews.

It began when correspondent Jeff Pegues allegedly went on a 20-minute rant, in which he dressed down a senior correspondent — whose identity was recently revealed as Herridge by Puck News.

A source told The Post at the time, that Ciprian-Matthews, who was in the meeting, did not initially report the incident and attempted to “blame” Herridge for Pegues’ diatribe when it was finally brought to the attention of HR.

CBS News is under investigation by the House Judiciary Committee over the network’s termination of Herridge and retention of her files. Christopher Sadowski

The incident opened a Pandora’s Box, as allegations that Ciprian-Matthews had protected Pegues and other diverse correspondents — to the detriment of primarily white, female correspondents — flooded the desk of Jennifer Gordon, an executive vice president of employee relations at Paramount Global who conducted the investigation.

The probe found that Pegues’ behavior was unprofessional, but months later, Ciprian-Matthews supported his promotion to Chief National Affairs and Justice Correspondent.

Gordon, who sources claimed failed to interview key witnesses in her probe against Ciprian-Matthews, concluded merely that the exec was a “bad manager” with limited resources, a source close to the situation told The Post at the time.

Herridge had sparked an HR probe of her then- colleague Jeff Pegues and Ciprian-Matthews when in 2021. Nathan Posner/Shutterstock

As first reported by The Post, Pegues was let go, along with Herridge, as part of a purge of 20 staffers at CBS News.

The Post has learned that Gordon was also let go amid layoffs at parent Paramount Global, which slashed nearly 800 jobs.

“Between Pegues, Herridge and Gordon,” the only one left standing who witnessed it is Ingrid,” a CBS insider said.

A rep for Paramount Global said :”Per policy we don’t comment on personnel matters.”

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