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Deborah Dugan Calls Grammy Nomination Process Rigged, Leaves Door Open to Returning in CBS Visit: Watch

Asked if she would return to the Academy, Dugan replied, "I wouldn't go back unless they were willing to change."

After accusing the Recording Academy of a rigged Grammy Awards voting system on Good Morning America earlier today, ousted Academy chief Deborah Dugan headed to CBS This Morning to make a similar case.

In the interview, Dugan discussed the 46-page discrimination complaint she filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday (Jan. 21) against the Academy. Dugan, the Academy’s first female president and CEO, was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 16 amid allegations of workplace bullying from a former assistant.

Appearing with her lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, Dugan reitereated to CBS her claims that Academy trustees often have conflicts of interest with particular artists who are nominated, and that nominated artists are often in the room during the voting process for the category in which they are nominated. “For me, that’s just such a blatant conflict of interest,” she said. 

She further described the Academy’s nomination review committees as “a system that’s taking care of their own,” adding that it is “mostly white, male.” She pointed out that “if you represented that artist, you have a financial gain if they get nominated for a Grammy.”


Dugan’s complaint specifically alleged voting improprieties in the prestigious Song of the Year category, claiming that in the 20-name shortlist for the 2019 award, an artist whom voting members had placed at the bottom of the list was moved up to the top five. Dugan would not name the artist in question.

She went on to explain that the process has the potential to be “fair and transparent”: “So many good people [are] on the board, they deserve better.” But questioned point-blank whether “rigged” is a term she would use to describe the system, Dugan replied, “Yes, it is.” 

Asked about the accusations of workplace bullying made against her by an executive assistant, Dugan pointed out that the woman had also been the assistant to outgoing Academy chief Neil Portnow. (Dugan’s complaint also alleges that Portnow was accused by a female recording artist of raping her. Portnow has denied the allegations, dubbing them “ludicrous and untrue.”)

“I think the normal redeployment of a prior CEO’s assistant would be to let them go, and I did not,” Dugan said. “What I said to her is that you will always have a place at the Recording Academy.”


The Academy maintains that it suspended Dugan due to the assistant’s accusations. But Dugan says her suspension was retaliation for her accusing the academy’s general counsel, Joel Katz, of sexual harassment (he has categorically denied her version of events), and for complaining about alleged corruption.

While the Academy has called the timing of Dugan’s complaint into question, Dugan told CBS that she had hoped to wait until after the Grammy Awards on Jan. 26, but was forced to take action when — as Wigdor put it — the Academy orchestrated a “serious retaliation.” Wigdor added that the timing was actually in their favor: “The executive assistant did raise a complaint, and weeks went by when nothing happened.”

On the other hand, Dugan had been “complaining all along,” she said. “But I kept wanting to make it work, I kept wanting to make a difference from the inside […] I only have come out to be here today because I have been so severely retaliated against.”

Asked if she would return to the Academy, Dugan replied, “I wouldn’t go back unless they were willing to change. There are a few bad eggs there, but there are so many wonderful people.”

Watch the full interview below.