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Netflix Says Fired Employee Was Only One to Access Leaked Dave Chappelle Data

Terminated employee denies that they leaked the information

In a new statement Wednesday, Netflix provided more information about the firing of an employee who it says leaked “confidential” information about the cost of Dave Chappelle’s 2019 comedy special “Sticks and Stones.”

The employee denies doing so. But Netflix said that they admitted to sharing the information from their Netflix email multiple times, and were also the only employee found to have accessed the information that was later reported by media outlets.

“While we would never normally talk about an investigation like this, these claims are not supported by the facts. This employee admitted sharing confidential information externally from their Netflix email on several occasions. Also, they were the only employee to access detailed, sensitive data on four titles that later appeared in the press. They claim only to have shared this information in an internal document, and that another employee must have leaked it. However, that document was missing data for one title and so cannot have been the source for the leak. In addition to having no explanation for this discrepancy, the employee then wiped their devices, making any further investigation impossible,” the statement said.

The employee, whose name has not been made public, was fired last week amid the continuing backlash over Chappelle’s latest special, “The Closer.” Over the weekend Netflix said they were let go ” for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” though Netflix acknowledged they “may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix.”

The leaked data first appeared in an Oct. 13 Bloomberg article that detailed the cost of Chappelle’s comedy specials relative to other projects on the streaming service. “Sticks and Stones,” released in 2019, cost Netflix $23.6 million, while “The Closer” cost $24.1 million. According to Bloomberg, the documents show that “Sticks & Stones” had an “impact value” of $19.4 million, meaning it cost more than the value it generated.

The other metric Netflix used, “efficiency,” (which weighs a show’s reach against its price tag), gave “Sticks & Stones” an 0.8, below the break-even score of 1.

Backlash over “The Closer” is due to a lengthy segment discussing trans people that includes transphobic jokes and commentary. It drew intense criticism from activists and from within Netflix itself, and inspired Wednesday’s protest walkout by trans employees and allies. Read more about that here and here.