A white female casting executive at ABC News is under investigation for what is being described as an “extensive history” of insensitive comments, including racist ones geared at black employees. Barbara Fedida’s abuses of power and alleged acts of discrimination were uncovered in a HuffPost investigative piece, which dropped Saturday. It was written over the course of six months and featured 34 sources who agreed to be interviewed, most anonymously.
Fedida, who was placed on administrative leave, has reportedly been at the center of more than a dozen HR complaints in the past few years. In 2016, ABC News even hired an executive coach to help her become a more empathic, racially sensitive and effective leader, however, it didn’t work. In 2018, she’s alleged to have pointed a racist comments about Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts.
“Roberts, a Black woman who has co-anchored Good Morning America since 2005, wanted more money as part of a contract renewal, and Fedida felt that Roberts had gotten enough,” the report reads. “Fedida then asked what more Roberts could want and said it wasn’t as if the network was asking Roberts to ‘pick cotton,’ according to one source who was in the room and witnessed the exchange.”
The piece also claims that Fedida reportedly called female staffers “cunts,” showed little interest in the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) despite diversity being a key part of her job, and also reportedly said she’d spend “more on toilet paper” than she would Kendis Gibson, a former black ABC News anchor. She is said to have fostered such a toxic work environment that those who left ABC News during her reign likened it to leaving an abusive marriage.
In a statement, ABC News condemns the allegations against Fedida, saying that they are “deeply disturbing” and “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.” Fedida calls the allegations “heartbreaking and incredibly misleading” in a statement.
“I am proud of my decades of work of hiring, supporting and promoting talented journalists of color,” she said. “...that track record is well-documented and undeniable.”