Talent executive Barbara Fedida is reportedly out at ABC News.
This decision was made roughly one month after ABC placed Fedida on administrative leave while an outside law firm probed claims raised in a June 15 story by HuffPost. The story raised allegations of a series of insensitive remarks and abusive behavior by Fedida, which included racial slurs made in front of staffers.
Once the investigation is concluded, Fedida will leave.
The aforementioned HuffPost story cites interviews with 34 unnamed sources over the course of six months, including current and former ABC News staff and talent, as well as other people familiar with “the inner workings of ABC News.”
None of the sources were willing to speak to HuffPost on the record, either because they had signed NDAs with ABC News, “or because they feared reprisal from Fedida or other top ABC News executives.”
One of the most troubling allegations cited in the HuffPost story is a remark Fedida made when she was involved in contract negotiations with GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts. When Fedida and her colleagues were discussing how Roberts wanted more money as a part of her contract renewal, the report claims Fedida said it wasn’t as if ABC was asking her to “pick cotton.”
In a memo obtained by Variety, ABC News staffers were notified of the news by Walt Disney Television chairman Peter Rice:
“The investigation substantiated that Ms. Fedida did make some of the unacceptable racially insensitive comments attributed to her. It also substantiated that Ms. Fedida managed in a rough manner and, on occasion, used crass and inappropriate language. 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.”
Fedida had worked for ABC News semi-continuously for 30 years. She started out in 1989 as a production associate for Peter Jennings Reporting. She remained with ABC for 17 years where she held positions including talent recruitment and development director, director of standards and practices and as a producer for several ABC News programs including Day One and World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.
Fedida was one of a handful of producers who worked on the Peter Jennings tribute special in August 2005.
Then-CBS News president Sean McManus lured Fedida to CBS News in 2006 to become executive director of talent. She was promoted to vp of talent in 2008 and would go on recruit talent to CBS News, including correspondents Terry McCarthy and Nancy Cordes from ABC, Erica Hill, Seth Doane and Elaine Quijano from CNN, and John Dickerson.
Fedida departed CBS News in February 2011 amid an executive shuffle.
In April 2011, then-ABC News president Ben Sherwood brought Fedida back to ABC as svp of talent and business. Sherwood became ABC News president just four months earlier. Fedida had remained in her role during the James Goldston tenure (2014-present).