ABC News Senior Vice President for Talent and Business Barbara Fedida was fired Monday after an investigation into ‘unacceptable racially insensitive comments’ with staff.
Walt Disney Television chairman Peter Rice announced Barbara Fedida’s termination in a memo to staff on Monday, confirming the results of the month-long probe into allegations of racially inappropriate exchanges with black employees — including Good Morning America host Robin Roberts.
Among the reports, Fedida is accused of quipping that ABC News does not make Roberts “pick cotton” when questioning a potential raise in salary. “The investigation substantiated that Ms. Fedida did make some of the unacceptable racially insensitive comments attributed to her,” wrote Rice in the Monday memo, according to a source for NBC News.
“It also substantiated that Ms. Fedida managed in a rough manner and, on occasion, used crass and inappropriate language,” Rice explained, though the investigation was unable to substantiate other claims by the 34 staff members interviewed in the process. Rice said:
Lastly, the investigation 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.
“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,” he concluded.
Despite the apparent weight of testimony against her, Fedida has denied all allegations. “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,” she said.
“I am proud of my decades of work of hiring, supporting and promoting talented journalists of color,” Fedida continued. “And, unlike these heartbreaking and incredibly misleading claims about me, that track record is well-documented and undeniable.”