ABC News president Kim Godwin hasn’t even been in office for six months, but she’s already pissed off her bosses at Disney.
When Godwin called for an independent, independent investigation into the handling of allegations of sexual assault against former “GMA” boss Michael Corn (allegations that Corn denies), Disney General Entertainment Content chairman Peter Rice was upset. That is what two people who are familiar with the subject said and who spoke to me on Wednesday. Also upset with Godwin: Disney General Counsel and Executive Vice President Alan Braverman, according to one of those sources.
A Disney spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Wednesday. And I also turned to Godwin, who didn’t answer. But one of the sources told me Burbank was “really mad” at her …
Within ABC News, several people familiar with the dynamic said morale was low. These people also pointed out that Rice was MIA. In fact, the Culture Council, a group of peer-selected people who work with executives to drive change in the company, even reached out to Rice. These employees wrote to Rice “with a request that he contact the news department personally,” according to an email I received from the council and sent to the employees.
That didn’t happen. Instead, Rice was “a ghost,” as a source frankly told me. In fact, Disney and Rice have remained silent and left basic questions about events that rocked the newsroom. For example, will the company give Godwin their wish and the green light to conduct an independent investigation into what happened at “GMA”? Disney won’t tell. In fact, I can’t even get the company spokesperson to confirm my emails …
Who knew what?
Brian Stelter writes, “Oliver and I hear both versions of the same question from ABC News: ‘Who Knew What When?’ Godwin wasn’t with ABC when the alleged incidents happened at GMA. But junior executives were. Several of them were named in the lawsuit. Who was there when formal complaints were filed with the company in February? Rice. One My sources pointed out that rumors of Corn’s abrupt exit have been circulating for months, so none of these newfound controversies should have surprised Disney. “We should be a culture-changing network,” one veteran ABCer said with a sigh to me…”
Godwin appeared on Wednesday to reiterate her call for an independent investigation into the matter. “We will invest in additional resources to support our group,” she wrote in a memo, “and use both internal and external expertise to support us.” Notice that it includes the word “external” there.
Interestingly, in her note, Godwin praised the Council of Culture, the same group that Rice wrote, asking him to contact the editor. She said the group’s work is “more important than ever” and that its members “work hard to help us make positive change”. She added: “We must continue to support and encourage this work, promote it and develop it further.”
Godwin also announced that ABC News will be adding to its staffing team for the time being. “For GMA and the DC Bureau, we are taking immediate steps to assign dedicated HR business partners to these teams,” said Godwin. Godwin finished her note by saying, “This is just the beginning …”