Top ABC News Executive Barbara Fedida To Exit After Probe Into Racist Comments
Barbara Fedida, a senior ABC News executive in charge of talent, has been let go following an investigation into inappropriate behavior including racially insensitive comments.
In an email sent to staff Monday, Walt Disney Television Chairman Peter Rice said Fedida would not be returning to the company after an independent investigation into the accusations. She was placed on administrative leave after an article written by Yashar Ali for HuffPost last month, citing dozens of sources, alleged that Fedida had a long history of making insensitive remarks ― including racist and derogatory comments ― to people who report to her. This included an allegation that during a contract negotiation for Robin Roberts, a Black woman who co-anchors “Good Morning America,” Fedida asked what more she could want and said it wasn’t as if the network were asking Roberts to “pick cotton.”
“The investigation substantiated that Ms. Fedida did make some of the unacceptable racially insensitive comments attributed to her. It also substantiated that Ms. Fedida managed in a rough manner and, on occasion, used crass and inappropriate language,” Rice wrote in his email, obtained by multiple news outlets.
“Lastly, the investigation found no basis for the claims that Ms. Fedida was the subject of dozens of HR complaints and that ABC News spent millions of dollars in confidential settlements related to Ms. Fedida, as alleged in some press accounts.”
Ali reported that Fedida’s alleged misconduct led the network to pay for confidential settlements with former talent and staff, including at least one settlement related to allegations of racial discrimination. Sources had alleged she was the subject of more than a dozen human resources complaints and a 2016 human resources investigation that led the network to hire an executive coach for her. ABC News staffers who were aware of the investigation told HuffPost they were stunned that it did not result in her dismissal.
Given the manner in which Fedida “wielded the power of her position,” Rice said, the position will now be restructured to separate the business affairs role from talent relations and recruitment. Each function will have its own leader going forward, he said.
“We understand that there is serious work that needs to be done to enhance the culture of inclusion and make further progress on our goal of attracting, fostering and retaining diverse talent,” Rice added. “We will provide more details about these initiatives later this week.”
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