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Netflix fires PR chief Jonathan Friedland over insensitive comments

Netflix PR chief Jonathan Friedland has been fired following a controversy over racial and insensitive remarks. CEO Reed Hastings issued a lengthy internal memo discussing PR chief Jonathan Friedland's misbehaviour and dismissal.

By: IANS | Los Angeles |
June 23, 2018 4:08:52 pm
Netflix fires PR chief Netflix PR chief Jonathan Friedman fired for making racial comments.

Netflix chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland is leaving the company following a controversy over insensitive remarks. Friedland announced the departure on Twitter Friday, saying that he felt awful about “the distress this lapse caused”, reports variety.com.

Friedland had joined Netflix as VP of communications in 2011 and became the company’s chief communications officer a year later. His ascend at the company coincided with Netflix’s first major PR debacle, the proposed split of its DVD business into a separate company called Quickster, which Netflix quickly walked back on. Before joining Netflix, Friedland had served in communications roles for Disney. He was a journalist by trade before crossing over to work in comms and worked for a decade for the Wall Street Journal, where he served as the paper’s Los Angeles bureau chief.

A Netflix spokesperson referred Variety to Friedland’s Twitter statement, saying that the company didn’t have anything further to add. There is no word on any possible replacement for Friedland, reports variety.com.

In a memo to staff on Friday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings described two incidents in which Friedland used the N-word, writing of Friedland, “his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity and is not in line with our values as a company.”

“I’ve made a decision to let go of Jonathan Friedland. Jonathan contributed greatly in many areas, but his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity, and is not in line with our values as a company.”

“The first incident was several months ago in a PR meeting about sensitive words. Several people afterwards told him how inappropriate and hurtful his use of the N-word was, and Jonathan apologised to those that had been in the meeting. We hoped this was an awful anomaly never to be repeated.”

“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 offence. The second incident confirmed a deep lack of understanding, and convinced me to let Jonathan go now.”

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