An ABC News executive was placed on administrative leave for allegedly using racist language about the black employees at the network, including Good Morning America host Robin Roberts.
Axios reported that Barbara Fedida is the executive that oversees hiring and diversity programs. Fedida “wielded arguably the most power at the network in determining the fates of Black employees in terms of hiring and contracts,” according to a statement from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
A HuffPost report accused Fedida of “enabling a ‘toxic’ and ‘abusive’ work environment.”
During 2018 contract negotiations in which Roberts, a black woman, asked for a raise, Fedida allegedly said that it was not as if the network was asking her to “pick cotton,” the HuffPost reported.
After speaking with 34 sources over six months, HuffPost found that there was “a long pattern of insensitive statements, including racist comments, made by Fedida to people who report to her.”
Fedida allegedly actively sought to sabotage diversity efforts, such as putting on a 2016 town hall event with President Barack Obama on race with an all-white planning committee and no people of color moderating.
ABC News said in a statement that Fedida was put on administrative leave while the company conducts “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,” the statement added.
Fedida claimed in a statement through her attorney via HuffPost that she was a “champion for increased diversity in network news.”
“Building a news division where everyone can thrive has been my life’s mission,” the statement continued. “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.”