Good Morning America co-hosts George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts are allegedly at odds over how the network has been handling a recent sexual harassment lawsuit against a former executive producer at ABC. According to The Daily Beast, “quelling internal dissent” has proven just as difficult as dealing with the backlash to the network.
Michael Corn, the former senior executive producer of Good Morning America, was accused of sexually harassing multiple women, a claim both he and ABC have vehemently denied and are expected to fight in court. Sources present on a GMA team-wide call told The Daily Beast that Robin Roberts said that, “If this happened to someone on my team, I would have burned the place down,” supposedly referring to George Stephanopoulos.
George, who was described as “livid” after hearing Robin’s comments, was not present for the call. The GMA co-host has been off-air and self-isolating the past few days after his daughter was diagnosed with Covid-19.
Reportedly, George Stephanopoulos knew of former executive producer Michael Corn’s sexual assault activity roughly four years ago but continued to work with Michael Corn despite knowledge of his actions at the network.
In 2017, George told Kirstyn Crawford – one of his producers who accused Michael Corn of sexual assault – that he had heard about it and urged her to report it. He informed ABC executives and a lawyer for the network of the accusation, but the news organization did not act. ABC disputed the claims and said it planned to address them in court.
“We are committed to upholding a safe and supportive work environment and have a process in place that thoroughly reviews and addresses complaints that are made,” a spokesperson for ABC News said at the time.
Robin Roberts’ sentiments were rumored to be shared by other staffers at GMA as well. They believe that George did not do enough with the power he holds at ABC News to make sure that the allegations against Corn were dealt with properly.
Many anonymous staffers who spoke to The Daily Beast pointed to recent tension between him and David Muir, the anchor for ABC’s World News Tonight, regarding his position at the company. George reportedly threatened to leave to a rival network if he didn’t have a higher position in the company than David Muir, prompting Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger to personally offer him a more lucrative contract extension with ABC News.
Declining to address the lawsuit, a spokesperson for ABC News simply told The Daily Beast that “Robin and George are fine.”
“She told him personally that she wasn’t referring to him and called the team the next day to reiterate that her comment was not about any one individual,” the spokesperson explained.
The Michael Corn lawsuit marks the first major sexual assault case against ABC, who had previously been uninvolved in major network #MeToo scandals that plagued CBS, Fox, and NBC.
Recent addition Kim Goodwin, who was named ABC News President back in April, has only been on the job for four months, but plans to “clean up the culture.”
However, Robin Roberts remained “incensed” about ABC’s handling of the lawsuit, according to staffers who also say the energy at ABC News is “chaotic.”
“According to ABC’s policies, whenever it is put on notice of alleged misconduct, it must conduct a meaningful, thorough investigation,” the lawsuit claims. “But neither [ABC company lawyer Tanya] Menton nor anyone else from ABC’s litigation or human resources department conducted such an investigation.”
Other than confirming that Kirstyn Crawford’s story of his actions is accurate, George Stephanopoulos has declined to comment on the lawsuit.