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#ABC News exec booted over alleged racially insensitive comments

#ABC News exec booted over alleged racially insensitive comments

July 20, 2020 | 7:37pm

Barbara Fedida, a senior vice president, had been on leave since last month, when it was alleged that during contract negotiations with black “Good Morning America’’ host Robin Roberts, Fedida told colleagues it wasn’t like ABC was asking her to “pick cotton.’’

The Huffington Post report also alleged that Fedida called black “The View’’ co-host Sunny Hostin “low-rent,’’ while suggesting black former ABC correspondent Kendis Gibson was worth less than toilet paper.

The network said in an internal memo Monday that an independent investigation showed Fedida had made “unacceptable racially insensitive comments” on the job.

“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,’’ Peter Rice, chairman of Walt Disney Television, wrote to staff in the memo seen by Page Six.

But  while the HuffPost claimed that there had been settlements with some former network staffers who griped about Fedida, Rice denied it.

The outside probers “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,’’ the memo said.

Still, “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.

The memo added that ABC will restructure her position because it consolidated too much power under one role and that the network will announce initiatives for more inclusion and diversity.

Fedida reportedly told the HuffPost in a statement through her lawyer at the time of its report: “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.”

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