Barbara Fedida, a senior executive at ABC News, who’s responsible for recruiting on-air talent, has been accused of making racist remarks about Black people at the workplace.
“Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts and “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin were two of the people that Fedida allegedly made racist statements about.The executive has been placed on administrative leave and The Walt Disney Company, ABC’s owner, has launched an investigation.
The accusations about Fedida come from a HuffPost report published on June 13. The story was built from interviews and 34 different sources over a six-month period.
One of the alleged racist remarks happened in 2018 during contract negotiations when Roberts, who’s Black, was seeking more money.
Fedida is accused, during one of those meetings, of saying that ABC was not asking Roberts to “pick cotton.”
Fedida also allegedly referred to Hostin, who openly has shared about growing up in public housing, as “low rent.” Hostin, a former federal prosecutor, was born to a Puerto Rican mother and a Black father.
Mara Schiavocampo, a Black journalist who formerly worked at ABC News, is another person the executive is accused of being racist toward. It happened after Schiavocampo led a group of Black journalists who wanted more inclusivity at the network.
After ABC News decided not to renew Schiavocampo’s contract in 2017, Schiavocampo accused the network of racial discrimination. She eventually received a financial settlement and signed a nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreement.
ABC anchor Kendis Gibson is also named in the report. Fedida is accused of saying that ABC “spends more on toilet paper than we ever would on him.”
Gibson, who’s now an anchor at MSNBC, responded on Twitter.
“Here’s the deal,” he tweeted on Saturday, June 13.
“I really enjoyed the show & people I worked with at @ABC. I look back at my time there fondly. I’m still surprised and disappointed by the reported remarks made about me by an exec there, if true. My hope is, and always has been, for a more diverse industry.”
Hostin decided to respond to the report on Monday’s episode of “The View.”
“It was a tough weekend for me, and I was really disappointed and saddened and hurt when I learned about the racist comments that were made allegedly about me, my colleagues, and my dear friends,” she said.
“Systemic racism touches everything and everyone in our society regardless of social stature,” added Hostin. “No one is immune. It’s the type of racism that Black people deal with every single day, and it has to stop, and I look forward to the results of what I hear is going to be an independent, external investigation.”
Fedida, who’s held her position since 2011 and had a dozen of human resources complaints on her, denied the report.
“Throughout my career, I have been a champion for increased diversity in network news,” she said in a statement released by her lawyer. “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.”
A spokesperson for ABC issued a statement and said the network finds the allegations extremely troubling.
“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,” the statement read. “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 report also says that ABC already has spent millions in settlements on Fedida’s behalf.