James Goldston is out as president of ABC News
James Goldston is departing his post as president of ABC News on March 31, the Walt Disney Co. unit said Thursday.
The announcement of Goldston’s exit comes six months after the ouster of the division’s longtime business affairs chief, Barbara Fedida, who left after an investigation into her alleged use of racist language when discussing the news division’s employees. The investigation followed a report in HuffPost.
Goldston has been rumored to be on his way out since Fedida officially parted ways with ABC in July.
Goldston succeeded Ben Sherwood as president of ABC News in 2014. According to a memo to staff, the decision to leave is his own.
“It’s a really tough decision,” Goldston said. “I’ve loved every day of my 17 years at ABC News, but in recent times I’ve always assumed that after this extraordinary election cycle, which we’ve covered at a full sprint for four years, it would be time for a change. After a great deal of reflection over the last few months, I’m ready for a new adventure.”
According to one ABC News executive who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, Goldston had been telling associates that he wanted to leave the company and pursue other endeavors once the presidential election was over.
No replacement has been named yet.
Peter Rice, chairman of general entertainment content for Disney, told staff in a memo that he is setting up a transition team to operate the news division until a new president is chosen.
Goldston’s duties will be divided up among Derek Medina, an executive vice president in charge of business affairs; Michael Corn, executive producer for “Good Morning America”; Almin Karamehmedovic, executive producer for “ABC World News”; Wendy Fisher, who runs newsgathering for the network; and senior vice president Marie Nelson.
Goldston, 52, joined ABC News in 2004 after a long career in British TV news. In 2005, he became executive producer of “Nightline,” where he was responsible for reviving the long-running late-night news franchise when it was on the verge of cancellation.
Goldston also oversaw “Good Morning America” when it toppled “Today” for the top spot in the morning news ratings race in 2012, ending the NBC News franchise’s 16-year winning streak.
ABC News programs delivered solid ratings success over Goldston’s run. “Good Morning America” has been the most-watched morning news franchise since 2012. “ABC World News With David Muir” is the top-rated evening newscast, scoring its largest audience in two decades and often ranking as the most-watched program in all of television during the coronavirus pandemic.
ABC News also absorbed responsibility for the daytime chat show “The View” on Goldston’s watch and turned it into a must-stop for politicians on the campaign trail.
Goldston was not implicated in Disney’s investigation into the behavior of Fedida, a longtime senior executive who developed many of the on-air stars at ABC News. But she was a direct report upon whom he relied as an enforcer in the news division.
The investigation found that Fedida “made some of the unacceptable racially insensitive comments attributed to her” in the HuffPost report and had “managed in a rough manner and on occasion used crass and inappropriate language,” according to a memo from Rice sent to employees in July.
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