News anchor Elex Michaelson said on Monday that embattled ABC News executive Barbara Fedida once told him the Disney-owned network couldn’t hire a white man -- but he didn't come forward out of fear of being blackballed by the industry.
Michaelson shared a report from Huffington Post's Yashar Ali that rocked ABC News over the weekend with a detailed account of damning accusations of Fedida and her treatment of black journalists at the network. The report resulted in ABC News placing Fedida, a senior vice president, on administrative leave while it investigates the claims and prompted Michaelson to share a story for the first time publicly.
“In 2017, ABC7 recommended I become a network correspondent,” Michaelson tweeted. “Barbara Fedida told me: ‘You're qualified. But you're a white male & my bosses told me I can only hire women & minorities for the next couple years.’"
ABC News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Her blunt words were shocking & left me feeling powerless. I didn't want to be blackballed in the industry so I didn't complain or sue. Soon after, though, I did leave the company,” Michaelson added.
Ali wrote that he had spoken with "34 sources over the course of six months" comprising current and former ABC News staff for the bombshell report on Fedida.
He reported that during a contentious 2018 meeting about renewing “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts's contract, Fedida reportedly "asked what more Roberts could want and said it wasn’t as if the network was asking Roberts to 'pick cotton.'"
Fedida also reportedly referred to "The View" co-host Sunny Hostin as "low rent."
Another source told Ali about a comment Fedida said about then-ABC News journalist Kendis Gibson, a black anchor, that ABC “spends more on toilet paper than we ever would on him."
Michaelson thanked Ali for “bringing sunlight to this dark place in network TV” and explained why he shared his own story about Fedida.
“My hope in sharing this is to show support for the victims of racism at ABC News,” Michaelson wrote. “I also hope, going forward, this culture where race is so cavalierly & crudely discussed by executives with hiring & firing power...is over. We as a society...and as an industry...can do better.”
Michaelson – who now works for FOX's Los Angeles affiliate – added that he feels there is tremendous value in a diverse newsroom.
“Our viewers would be better served by having reporters & executives that looked like them,” he wrote. “Political, religious, socioeconomic, racial, ethnic diversity in the room creates more accurate stories."
"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," “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan read on Monday, which echoed the ABC News statement given to Fox News on Saturday.
Fedida has issued her own statement: “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."
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.