ABC News Exec Fired After Investigation Into Racist Remarks About Black Staffers

Barbara Fedida (Credit: ABC)

Barbara Fedida, a senior ABC News exec who was placed on administrative leave last month following claims that she made racist remarks about Black staffers, has been fired following an internal investigation.

Peter Rice, chairman of ABC News parent Walt Disney Television, announced Fedida’s termination Monday in a memo to network employees.

“The investigation substantiated that Ms. Fedida did make some of the unacceptable racially insensitive comments attributed to her,” Rice said in a company memo, NBC News reported.

“It also substantiated that Ms. Fedida managed in a rough manner and, on occasion, used crass and inappropriate language,” Rice continued. “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.”

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Now that the investigation has concluded, Rice said it’s time for Fedida to go.

“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,” Rice added.

Disney plans to restructure Fedida’s now-vacant role as senior vice president of talent, editorial strategy and business,  in which she oversaw hiring and diversity efforts.

Fedida’s fortunes at ABC News fell when HuffPost published a June 13 investigative report alleging she had a history of making racist remarks.

The story by Yashar Ali also said Fedida’s behavior went unchecked for years. The article cited interviews with 34 sources over six months, including current and former ABC News staff and talent.

Among the claims raised in the report, Fedida was sitting with colleagues in 2018 when she complained about Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts asking for more money during contract negotiations. Fedida reportedly asked others what more Roberts, who is African American, could want and said it wasn’t as if the network was asking her to “pick cotton.”

Fedida was additionally accused of trying to block diversity and inclusion efforts that were part of her job description.

In response to her firing, the National Association of Black Journalists released a statement Monday praising the Disney/ABC decision.

“The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is pleased that Disney/ABC News has taken decisive action by firing top ABC News executive Barbara Fedida, after substantiating allegations of racially insensitive comments made by her,” the statement said. “The actions of Fedida are uncalled for, and points to the kind of barriers Black journalists face in advancing in newsrooms across the country.”

NABJ called on Disney/ABC to do more, including hiring “an outside consultant to assess the culture and work environment and policies at ABC News.”