A top executive at ABC News has been put on administrative leave after a report that she used racist language in discussions about on-air talent at the network.
What We Know:
- The Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC, is investigating the behavior of Barbara Fedida, a senior vice president of talent, editorial strategy and business development for the news division, after a HuffPost report that described a long history of Fedida making abusive comments in the workplace.
- Fedida is the existing No. 2 at ABC News under its president, James Goldston. She has played a major in developing and recruiting on-air talent at the network, which has the most-watched morning and evening news TV programs with Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight.
- In discussion about former ABC anchor Kendis Gibson, Fedida is described as saying ABC News ‘spends more on toilet paper than we ever would on him.” Gibson, who also is Black and now works at MSNBC, went on Twitter to say he was “surprised and disappointed” by Fedida’s alleged comments.
Here’s the deal..
I really enjoyed the show & people I worked with at @ABC. I look back at my time there fondly. I’m still surprised and disappointed by the reported remarks made about me by an exec there, if true. My hope is, and always has been, for a more diverse industry. https://t.co/2Z4g64pO6v
— kendis (@kendisgibson) June 13, 2020
- A spokesperson for ABC News said, “There are deeply disturbing allegations in this story that we need to investigate, and we have placed Barbara Fedida on administrative while we conduct a thorough and complete investigation. These allegations do not represent the values and culture of ABC News, where we strive to make everyone feel respected in a thriving, diverse and inclusive workplace.”
“This external investigation by ABC News should be transparent, and all findings must be published and broadcast. This is appropriate because Fedida was no second-tier executive. This top ABC News executive wielded arguably the most power at the network in determining the fates of Black employees in terms of hiring and contracts. The careers of many at ABC News, as well as their future advancement, was literally in her hands.” – National Association of Black Journalist
#NABJ calls for @ABC News/@Disney to immediately launch a transparent, external investigation led by a diverse law firm to examine all of the allegations detailed in @yashar's report, while conducting a thorough review of ABC News Exec Barbara Fedida and the talent dept. pic.twitter.com/geJMBejx4h
— #NABJ Headquarters (@NABJ) June 13, 2020
- Yashar Ali wrote that he based his story on interviews with 34 sources over six months. His story reported on one instance in 2018, when Fedida was sitting with colleagues discussing contract negotiations with Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, and “then asked what more Roberts could want and said it wasn’t as if the network was asking Roberts to ‘pick cotton.’” Ali cited one unnamed source who was in the room and two others who were not present but told about it soon after.
— Stephen Battaglio (@SteveBattaglio) June 14, 2020
- HuffPost, citing unnamed sources, reported that Fedida was the subject of more than a dozen Human Resources complaints and a Human Resources investigation in 2016 that led the network to hire an executive coach for her.
In response to the nation’s reaction to George Floyd’s death – an unarmed Black man who died May 25 on a Minneapolis street after a white police officer knelt on his neck – Disney has committed $5 million in contributions to social justice organizations.