Recent layoffs at ABC News were not business as usual, some staffers say. “It feels personal,” an insider told Page Six.
ABC News president Kim Godwin announced layoffs at the network last month — and multiple sources told us it was a form of payback to people she thought were leaking stories about her at the network.
“They’re targeting people to figure out who’s leaking, and the layoffs are a part of it. They’re trying to make an example of them,” a source believes.
The cost-cutting move was part of parent Disney’s plan to cut 7,000 jobs.
Several senior execs were included in the 50 workers whom ABC News will let go. Some suspected that Godwin was targeting “people she thought were not on her team, or people she suspected either wanted her job or [were] trying to take her down,” another source said.
The names of axed staffers subsequently ended up in media reports almost immediately after they were given their pink slips.
“It was like a ‘This is a nail in your coffin’ type of thing. All of the people that are gone are the people who she suspected weren’t her supporters and fans,” the second source speculated.
Our first source told us that “seeing the names published in articles” felt like someone was out “to humiliate these people — and they’ve accomplished it.”
The source further claimed that the “news division was treated differently than the rest of the company. It was vindictive, targeted and mean.”
But a third source close to the situation insists the layoffs were “done in a fair manner.”
“Kim is a God-centered woman. It’s just not true. The decisions made were not in that vein,” they insisted.
Godwin has been the target of several hit pieces in media trades since she took over the top job from James Goldston in 2021.
“She was supposed to be a change agent. A big reason they brought her in was to clean up the snake-pit culture,” the second source said.
At ABC’s news division last year, a scandal hit “Good Morning America” thanks to former “GMA3” anchors T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach’s off-screen affair being revealed.
Godwin was criticized for how she handled the scandal that ultimately cost the lovebirds their lucrative ABC jobs.
Godwin recently told Vanity Fair that she’s “very comfortable” with cutting ties with the two after the scandal. “We ended up where we needed to be, and I’m very comfortable with that decision,” she said.
Several sources told us coverage of the scandal resulted in the company launching an internal investigation to find out who was dishing details to the press. Vanity Fair’s profile of Godwin also claimed that “staffers were interviewed as part of a search for employees leaking information” — after Puck published an article about Godwin’s performance.
“I didn’t call for it” or “approve it,” she told VF, which wrote that she emphasized “confidentiality is important in all organizations.”
Our second source described the probe as “shocking” and “horrifying.”
“It’s very strange to do an investigation on leaks in a newsroom,” they said.
Still, the decision to ax those particular execs “sends a signal that [Disney] is supporting Kim, at least right now. They had to get rid of all of her detractors,” the source added.
The third source told us that “there’s no connection between the investigation and layoffs.”
“While some of the individuals who were impacted may have been interviewed as part of the investigation, [the] investigation that is being conducted by security has not been completed and they have made no recommendations yet,” they said.
But our first insider fears that ABC News now has a “culture of fear and paranoia.” “It’s the cult of Kim. Either you’re with her or against her. Fall in line and don’t dissent,” they said.
We hear more layoffs will be announced later this month.
A rep for ABC did not comment.