ABC News executive Barbara Fedida will be leaving the company after an investigation found that she made “racially insensitive comments” and “managed in a rough manner,” Walt Disney Television Chairman Peter Rice said on Monday.
In a staff memo, reviewed by TheWrap, Rice said that the investigation conducted by outside counsel “substantiated that Ms. Fedida did make some of the unacceptable racially insensitive comments attributed to her” and that she “managed in a rough manner and, on occasion, used crass and inappropriate language.” Rice said the investigation did not, however, find that Fedida was “the subject of dozens of HR complaints and that ABC News spent millions of dollars in confidential settlements related to Ms. Fedida.”
“Although Ms. Fedida made contributions to the organization over the 20-year span of her career, in light of the overall findings, we have determined that she can no longer serve in a leadership role and will not be returning to ABC News,” Rice said.
Fedida was ABC News’ senior vice president for talent, editorial strategy and business affairs. Last month, Fedida was placed on leave after HuffPost reported on complaints from staff that she made racist comments, such as telling “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts that the network wasn’t asking her to “pick cotton” after Roberts asked if she could receive more money after her contract renewed, according to an unnamed individual who said they witnessed the interaction.
Another unnamed individual also told HuffPost that they heard Fedida say the network “spends more on toilet paper” than it “ever would” on then-ABC News anchor Kendis Gibson, who is Black.
Moving forward, Rice told ABC News staff that Fedida’s position will be “restructured,” where “business affairs will be a separate function from talent relations and recruitment, each with its own leader.” Rice also said there was “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” and that there would be further details on these “initiatives” provided later this week.