Netflix fires communications chief

Jonathan Friedland
Jonathan Friedland

NEW YORK • The chief executive of Netflix fired the company's chief communications officer last Friday after he "showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity" in using a racial epithet at least twice in the workplace, according to a company memo.

Chief executive Reed Hastings credited communications officer Jonathan Friedland with helping to strengthen Netflix's brand around the world and making it successful.

But those accomplishments were not enough to outweigh his workplace behaviour.

"Unfortunately, his lack of judgment in this area was too big for him to remain," Mr Hastings wrote.

Former journalist Friedland - not to be confused with Jonathan Freedland, a prominent columnist at the London-based Guardian newspaper - had served in communications roles for Disney.

Before working in communications, he spent 10 years at The Wall Street Journal.

On Twitter, he said: "Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and, unfortunately, I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy." The Hollywood Reporter had first reported on Mr Friedland's firing.

In the memo, Mr Hastings said the first incident occurred "several months ago" in a meeting about sensitive words and again a few days later to two African-American human-resources employees as he was discussing the original transgression.

Mr Friedland apologised immediately when objections were raised on the first occasion, but the fact that he did it again "confirmed a deep lack of understanding and convinced me to let Jonathan go", said Mr Reed.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline 'Netflix fires communications chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe