Written by @kristenshylin_
On Monday, Walt Disney Television Chairman Peter Rice announced that news division talent and business affairs executive Barbara Fedida was fired from ABC News.
According to Deadline, Fedida’s termination came after she was placed on administrative leave following accusations of making racially insensitive remarks. The company then launched an investigation over the alleged racist comments.
Rice sent out a company-wide email, informing everyone that outside counsel completed the investigation, which concluded that Fedida would no longer be a member of the ABC family.
“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 wrote in the staff email.
The investigation discovered that Fedida, who oversaw newsroom inclusion and held hiring power, made “some of the unacceptable racially insensitive comments attributed to her.”
The independent observation revealed that Fedida was ill-mannered and often used inappropriate language.
On June 13, the HuffPost published an article about the network’s investigation amid allegations of Fedida being an “abusive figure.”
Writer Yashar Ali wrote a story based on 34 sources over a span of six months. Ali shared an incident from an unnamed source who accused Fedida of making a slavery reference toward a Black talent star.
While sitting with colleagues reviewing contract negotiations for Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, Fedida asked what more Roberts could want and said it was not as if the company was asking her to “pick cotton.”
According to the article, two other colleagues who were absent during the work meeting confirmed the rumor, stating that they soon heard about the incident.
The allegations mentioned in Ali’s article sparked the investigation, which found that Fedida’s consistent misconduct, including racial discrimination, cost the ABC network millions of dollars in confidential settlements with former staff and clients.
Ali’s report caught the National Association of Black Journalists’ attention, who called for a meeting with the network’s lead executives and its parent company, Walt Disney.
The NABJ also demanded that the investigation’s findings be shared with the public.
In a message to the network’s staff, Rice introduced the reconstruction of Fedida’s position.
“Given the manner in which Ms. Fedida wielded the power of her position, we’ve made a determination that the position needs to be restructured. Going forward, business affairs will be a separate function from talent relations and recruitment, each with its own leader.”
The parent company chairman also addressed the “serious work that needs to be done to enhance the culture of inclusion.”
Meanwhile, Fedida released a statement regarding her departure from ABC News to HuffPost, which said, “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.”