The last couple of years have given us countless stories about the blatant racism, sexism, and abuse of power among Hollywood’s elite, and that trend shows no sign of slowing down.
As reported earlier today in an exclusive by the Hollywood Reporter, streaming giant Netflix has fired Jonathan Friedland, the company’s chief communications officer. Friedland, who served as a PR chief for the past six years, was let go after he used some rather shocking language in the workplace.
Sources told THR that Friedland used the N-word during a meeting with some other staff members, some of whom reported the incident to upper management. Later, in a follow-up meeting with the company’s human resource department to address the use of the N-word, Friedland used the word once more.
Needless to say, Friedland was fired shortly after. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings addressed the incident in a company-wide memo, which was sent out earlier today. Hastings explains how he was only made aware of one of the incidents recently, which is what prompted him to re-evaluate Friedland’s position at the company. The memo can be found in its entirety on the Hollywood Reporter, though we’ve pasted an excerpt below for your convenience.
“The second incident, which I only heard about this week, was a few days after the first incident; this time Jonathan said the N-word again to two of our Black employees in HR who were trying to help him deal with the original offense. The second incident confirmed a deep lack of understanding, and convinced me to let Jonathan go now.
“As I reflect on this, at this first incident, I should have done more to use it as a learning moment for everyone at Netflix about how painful and ugly that word is, and that it should not be used.”
The full context behind Friedland’s insensitive use of the racial slur is not yet known, although a series of tweets detail that they came about during a discussion with his team regarding words that are offensive in comedy. He goes on to apologize for the distress he caused in the workplace, and reflects on his time spent at the company.
I feel awful about the distress this lapse caused to people at a company I love and where I want everyone to feel included and appreciated. I feel honored to have built a brilliant and diverse global team and to have been part of our collective adventure.— jonathan friedland (@jsf33) June 22, 2018
As detailed on Friedland’s LinkedIn page, he originally began his career as a reporter, working first for the Far Eastern Economic Review, which was then followed by a 10 year stint at the Wall Street Journal. In 2006, he joined The Walt Disney Company as a VP in Strategic Communications, before being promoted to SVP of Corporate Communications in 2010. One year later, he joined Netflix as a VP of Global Corporate Communications, before being named Chief Communications Officer in 2012.
Netflix has yet to announce who will be taking over the role of CCO.