Journalist Mara Schiavocampo was fired as a correspondent at ABC News by senior executive Barbara Fedida for leading diversity efforts at the network, the Huffington Post reports.
Sources claim that ABC executive Fedida oversaw the network’s diversity and inclusion efforts, but apparently, she wasn’t about it and would “often develop animus toward staffers or talent who tried to champion the efforts, including staffers she put in charge of improving diversity and inclusion,”
Schiavocampo was among those employees who asked for inclusivity in 2016, around the same time President Obama was holding a town hall with the network about race relations.
Sources told the Huffington Post that none of the staff who planned the town hall were Black, and no Black journalists were tasked with covering it. They claim Fedida “actively sabotaged diversity efforts at ABC” through her “combative relationship” with Black journalists at ABC.
In response, ABC News told the Huffington Post, “There are deeply disturbing allegations in this story that we need to investigate, 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.”
Fedida allegedly targeted Schiavocampo after the group of Black journalists was formed, and sources say Fedida would often talk about her Schiavocampo behind her back, calling the group the “Black manifesto.” Then in 2017, Schiavocampo’s contract wasn’t renewed, and in July, she was taken off the air, even though her contract didn’t expire until 2018.
Schiavocampo filed a legal claim against ABC News claiming Fedida racially discriminated against her. ABC gave Schiavocampo a financial settlement, but it meant she had to sign a nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreement.
After the news broke, Schiavocampo posted a photo of herself smiling on Instagram with the caption, “Today I am smiling because of YOU. Your messages of support feel like the sun. You are warmth and light in the darkness. I am smiling because of the dozens of texts, dms, and calls.”
Fedida has been suspended from ABC News, and an investigation is pending into her behavior, including one incident where she was talking about GMA host Robin Roberts’ salary. Sources say Fedida said, “It wasn’t as if the network was asking Roberts to ‘pick cotton.”