ABC Responds to Allegations Top Talent Exec Has Abusive, Racial History

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In a scathing report out Saturday, Huffington Post contributor Yashar Ali uncovered disturbing allegations that ABC News’ top talent executive, Barbara Fedida had been repeatedly accused of using racially charged and abusive language against the staff. And in response to the allegations, ABC had suspended Fedida as they investigated and issued an on-air comment during Sunday’s Good Morning America.

According to Ali’s report, Fedida used racially charged comments during a 2018 contract dispute with black GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts:

Roberts, a Black woman who has co-anchored “Good Morning America” since 2005, wanted more money as part of a contract renewal, and Fedida felt that Roberts had gotten enough. Fedida then asked what more Roberts could want and said it wasn’t as if the network was asking Roberts to “pick cotton,” according to one source who was in the room and witnessed the exchange. Two other sources who were not present but were told about the incident soon afterward confirmed the account to HuffPost.

Easing into ABC’s discussion of the charges, co-anchor Dan Harris noted that, “you may have heard that there is some controversy right now involving ABC News.” Adding: “According to a story citing an unnamed sources, in the Huffington Post, Barbara Fedida (…) is alleged to have said derogatory things about members of the staff including an alleged racially charged comment about our colleague Robin Roberts.”

Co-anchor White Johnson followed up by reading from a network statement on the matter, where they said Fedida had been placed on “administrative leave while we conduct a thorough and complete investigation.”

 

 

ABC’s statement also insisted: “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.” But Ali’s report suggested otherwise.

“Fedida has been the subject of more than a dozen human resources complaints and was the subject of a human resources investigation in 2016 that led ABC News to hire an executive coach for her,” sources told him. “Staffers at ABC News who knew about the investigation told HuffPost they were stunned that it did not end in her dismissal.”

The HuffPost report also pointed to claims that Fedida had the strong backing of Disney’s “vice president of litigation.” “[VP Tanya] Menton has been involved in settlement negotiations related to Fedida and other ABC News executives, and has personally handled the response to some of the human resources complaints about Fedida’s conduct, according to three sources,” Ali wrote.

The Walt Disney Company was the parent company of ABC News.

Back on GMA, co-anchor Eva Pilgrim read from the comment Fedida gave to the HuffPost:

Barbara Fedida gave a statement to the HuffPo reading, “Throughout my career, I have been a champion for increased diversity in network news. Building a news division where everyone can thrive has been my life’s mission. I am proud of my decades of work of hiring, supporting and promoting talented journalists of color. And unlike these heartbreaking and incredibly misleading claims about me, that track record is well documented and undeniable.”

In closing out the segment, Harris circled back around to the allegations concerning Roberts. He wanted viewers to that “we here on the desk also wanted to make something clear, which is that we express our respect and our affection for our friend and our colleague Robin Roberts.”

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

ABC’s Good Morning America
June 14, 2020
8:41:24 a.m. Eastern

DAN HARRIS: And along those lines, you may have heard that there is some controversy right now involving ABC News. According to a story citing an unnamed sources, in the Huffington Post, Barbara Fedida, senior executive vice president of talent and business affairs here at ABC News, is alleged to have said derogatory things about members of the staff including an alleged racially charged comment about our colleague Robin Roberts.

WHIT JOHNSON: Here’s a statement from ABC News management saying, quote, “There are deeply disturbing allegations in this story that we need to investigation and we have placed Barbara Fedida on administrative leave 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.

EVA PILGRIM: Barbara Fedida gave a statement to the HuffPo reading, “Throughout my career, I have been a champion for increased diversity in network news. Building a news division where everyone can thrive has been my life’s mission. I am proud of my decades of work of hiring, supporting and promoting talented journalists of color. And unlike these heartbreaking and incredibly misleading claims about me, that track record is well documented and undeniable.”

HARRIS: Again, ABC News has placed Fedida on leave and has launched an investigation. Those are the facts that we know this morning. But we here on the desk also wanted to make something clear, which is that we express our respect and our affection for our friend and our colleague Robin Roberts. We’ll be right back.



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