• ABC News placed senior vice president Barbara Fedida on administrative leave after HuffPost’s Yashar Ali investigated her extensive history of insensitive and racist remarks.
  • Fedida, who ran hiring and diversity programs for ABC News, was reported to have enabled a toxic and abusive workplace, according to the report.
  • Sources said she routinely dismissed or belittled concerns from Black staff about the lack of diversity efforts, and excluded Black staff from initially planning a town hall broadcast with President Barack Obama about race relations in 2016.
  • According to the report, ABC News and The Walt Disney Company, its parent company, have paid out millions of dollars in settlements against Fedida during her lengthy tenure at the company. She was subject to more than a dozen HR complaints during her time there.
  • In one instance, Fedida said it wasn’t as if the network was asking “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts to “pick cotton” during fraught contract negotiations in which Roberts, who is Black, asked for more money.
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ABC News senior vice president Barbara Fedida is on administrative leave Saturday after a HuffPost investigation into her extensive history of insensitive and racist remarks.

The investigation by HuffPost’s Yashar Ali unearthed a pattern of insensitive and racist remarks made by Fedida, who oversees hiring and diversity programs for the network in her role as senior vice president. Fedida contributed to and enabled a toxic and abusive workplace, sources told Ali, in addition to routinely dismissing or belittling concerns from Black staff members about the lack of diversity efforts. 

According to the report, ABC News and The Walt Disney Company, its parent company, have paid out millions of dollars in settlements against Fedida during her lengthy tenure at the company, where she was subject to more than a dozen HR complaints during her time there.

“To say that she’s an abusive figure is an understatement,” one former ABC News employee told HuffPost.

When Ali reached out to ABC News for comment, the network’s representative indicated that it would immediately start an investigation into the allegations and place Fedida on administrative leave until it was completed. Fedida was still actively employed at ABC News up until Ali’s request.

“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,” ABC News said in a statement to Huffington Post. “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.”  

According to the report, ABC News and The Walt Disney Company, its parent company, have paid out millions of dollars in settlements against Fedida during her lengthy tenure at the company. She was subject to more than a dozen HR complaints during her time there, which ran from 1989 until 2006, and again from 2011 to 2020. She was first executive director of talent at rival CBS News from 2006 until 2011.

One such instance at ABC News was during a planned town hall event with former President Barack Obama in 2016. The initial planning committee for the event, which focused on race relations, and its moderator were entirely white. Black staff members were concerned with the organization of the town hall and other overlooked diversity issues at ABC News, but Fedida and ABC executives dismissed their written requests as the “Black manifesto,” sources told HuffPost.

In another instance, Fedida lashed out at “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts during contentious contract negotiations in 2018. According to HuffPost, Fedida told Roberts, who is Black, that it wasn’t as if the network was asking her to “pick cotton” after Roberts had asked for more money as part of her contract.

“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,” Fedida told HuffPost through her attorney. “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.”

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