Sunny Hostin, co-host of “The View,” addressed a report that a top ABC News executive used derogatory and racist comments about her and other on-air figures.
Hoston said on today’s episode that the report — published in HuffPost on Saturday — “tells me that systemic racism touches everything and everyone in our society. Regardless of social stature, no one is immune. It is the type of racism that black people deal with every single day, and it has to stop.”
ABC News put Barbara Fedida, senior vice president of talent, editorial strategy and business affairs for the network, on administrative leave as an investigation is conducted. ABC News president James Goldston told staffers on Monday that an outside law firm is being retained to conduct the probe.
On Saturday, HuffPost published Yashar Ali’s report that detailed allegations, including one instance in which Fedida referred to Hostin as “low rent.” The story, citing unnamed sources, also reported on an instance in 2018 when Fedida was sitting with colleagues discussing contract negotiations with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, and “then asked what more Roberts could want and said it wasn’t as if the network was asking Roberts to ‘pick cotton.’” The story also cited incidents involving other journalists, including Kendis Gibson and Mara Schiavocampo.
Hostin said, “It was a tough weekend for me, and I was really disappointed and sad and hurt when I heard about the racist comments that were made, allegedly, about me, my colleagues and my dear friends, because if true, to reference Robin Roberts, who is one of the most respected and beloved journalists in our country, as ‘picking cotton,’ to reference me, someone who has been very open about having grown up in public housing, as ‘low rent,’ to reference Kendis Gibson, who was my office mate at ABC and now is an MSNBC anchor, to say that he isn’t worth paying as much as ABC would pay for toilet paper, the fact that Mara Schiavocampo, who is a friend and former colleague at ABC, that she has a [non-disclosure agreement] in place and can’t talk about her experiences at ABC, tells me that systemic racism touches everything and everyone in our society, regardless of social stature. No one is immune.”
All of “The View” co-hosts offered words of support for Hostin today, with Meghan McCain saying, “When you attack one of us, you’re attacking all of us.”
Moderator Whoopi Goldberg said, “I know Barbara Fedida, and I don’t think she’s a racist, everything I know about her doesn’t say that she has this in her, but I will say that one of the things that everyone should always say and I say it all the time is let’s find out, because if it’s true, she’s gone…All you racists out there, we know you, we know you, and if you turn out to be in the walls of the building, we’re tearing the building down.”
In a statement she gave to HuffPost through her lawyer, Fedida said, “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.”
In an email obtained by Deadline, Peter Rice, the chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, wrote that the reporting “raised a number of deeply disturbing allegations that are in direct conflict with the values of our news division. We are committed to a work environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and the leadership of the Company takes these allegations very seriously.”
His full memo is below:
Good morning everyone,
This weekend’s press reports about Barbara Fedida raised a number of deeply disturbing allegations that are in direct conflict with the values of our news division. We are committed to a work environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and the leadership of the Company takes these allegations very seriously. Due to the gravity of the issues raised, we have launched an immediate investigation that will be personally overseen by Disney’s general counsel. In the meantime, Barbara has been put on administrative leave.
ABC News must be a place where all employees can thrive in a diverse and inclusive environment. Everyone has the right to feel fully respected and supported at work – with the opportunity to be heard and to contribute in meaningful ways. You can be assured that once this investigation is concluded, we will take whatever actions are necessary.
I want to assure you that we are taking these allegations to heart, and I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during the investigation period. These are incredibly challenging times with so much news breaking across the country and I continue to be amazed by the incredible job you are all doing. Thank you all for your extraordinary commitment, integrity and perseverance.
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