Barbara Fedida, a White senior ABC News executive who manages talent, reportedly used racist rhetoric to disparage Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts during a contract negotiation back in 2018.
According to the Huffington Post, Roberts, an Emmy Award–winning newscaster, who has anchored the show since 2005, was requesting more money for her contributions to the morning show. In a meeting, Fedida reportedly expressed surprise and scorn at Roberts’s request, remarking that it’s not like she’s being asked to “pick cotton.”
“To say that she’s an abusive figure is an understatement,” a former ABC News employee reportedly told the HuffPo, which also revealed Fedida’s alleged abuses of power at the company, where she also served as the lead for diversity and inclusion, surprisingly.
Sources allegedly confirmed that the comment was part of a pattern of racist remarks and discriminatory language Fedida used against Black anchors.
Roberts wasn’t the only colleague to be spoken about in that manner or have their compensation linked to their race by Fedida. Her ire was also aimed at anchor Kendis Gibson, allegedly saying that the network “spends more on toilet paper than we ever would on him.”
Fedida’s behavior earned her multiple human resources complaints. There was an investigation into her conduct in 2016 resulting in ABC News hiring an executive coach for her. Employees at the company reportedly said they were shocked when the investigation did not conclude with her termination.
Fedida remains employed with the network despite her actions resulting in multiple confidential settlements greatly costing the company. At least one of these settlements is also said to be a result of a racist remark.
In a statement to ESSENCE, an ABC News spokesperson said: “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. 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.”
Fedida denied the allegations in a statement issued through her attorney to ABC News and HuffPost.