According to the Daily Beast, just three weeks after a lawsuit publicly accused former GMA senior ep Michael Corn of sexual assault, ABC News staffers say they are “livid” that Disney TV chairman Peter Rice hasn’t addressed them about the situation.
Last month, ABC News producer Kirstyn Crawford sued the former GMA lead executive, Corn, alleging he sexually assaulted her and created a hostile work environment at the network’s news division. Corn now runs the Chicago-based national cable news outlet NewsNation, and continues to deny the charges being made against him.
The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint, who broke the news of the original lawsuit filed against Corn and ABC, published an update, reporting that Crawford said in an amended complaint that “after she formally registered her complaint at ABC the network didn’t renew her three-year contract, offering instead a six-month extension with no raise.”
In response to the amended lawsuit (and Flint’s update), an ABC News spokesperson told TVNewser, “Ms. Crawford’s most recent allegation that ABC retaliated against her in connection with her contract negotiations is untrue.”
Following Crawford’s sexual assault lawsuit, which has been filed in New York State court, ABC News president Kim Godwin called for an independent investigation into the allegations that have been made against Corn, and the company’s handling of them. However, according to the Daily Beast, Rice has yet to respond or address staff about the situation—and some staffers are “livid.”
“People don’t feel heard. The strategy is a bad one and it’s rubbing people the wrong way,” one senior ABC Newser told The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Cartwright. “They told us they were going to change the place for the better but we seem to be going backwards.” Cartwright said he couldn’t get anyone to speak on the record about the matter, “out of fear of retaliation.”
Multiple ABC News staffers are reportedly angry that despite promises to clean up the culture at the network, the three executives who, according to the lawsuit, were made aware of the sexual-assault allegations in 2017 “have faced little accountability.” These executives include ABC News vp of publicity (and George Stephanopoulos‘ main comms contact) Heather Riley, ABC News evp Derek Medina, and ABC lawyer Tanya Menton as having knowledge of the claims but not investigating Corn, says the Beast.
It is also being reported that during a recent phone call with the ABC News Culture Council, an employee-led committee established last summer after Barbara Fedida’s high-profile exit, Rice was pressed on the Corn sexual assault allegations and was informed that staffers “did not trust Disney’s processes for reporting harassment.” The Beast reports that according to two people on the call, “members were left stunned when Rice failed to provide reassurance that Disney took the matter seriously.”
The Beast further also reports that on the call, Rice promised to address the news division on the situation, sources said, but two weeks later that meeting has yet to be scheduled.
ABC did not comment on The Daily Beast report.