ABC News boss Kim Godwin feeling heat from review by Disney exec

Embattled ABC News president Kim Godwin is facing intense scrutiny from corporate overlords at Disney who have tasked a top executive with conducting a top-to-bottom review of her stewardship, according to a report.

Debra OConnell, who in February was promoted to a leadership role that puts ABC News under her purview, is said to be astonished by Godwin’s mismanagement of the money-making division that includes “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight,” CNN reported.

“She has to take swift moves,” someone familiar with the inner workings of ABC News told CNN.

“People there are restless. They are extremely frustrated.”

OConnell, who as president of Disney’s News Group and Networks reports directly to Mouse House co-chair Dana Walden, is reportedly dissatisfied with what she perceives as Godwin’s hands-off leadership style.

ABC News boss Kim Godwin’s position appears to be tenuous. CBS
Debra OConnell is a top Disney executive who oversees ABC News. Getty Images

One issue that has irked OConnell has been Godwin’s inability to fill the role left by former head of talent Galen Gordon a year after his departure, sources told CNN.

OConnell, who has climbed the corporate ladder at Disney for nearly three decades, was also said to be upset by Godwin’s failure to retain key editorial stars such as Jonathan Greenberger, the former ABC News Washington bureau chief who decamped to Politico just months before the presidential election.

Under Godwin’s watch, ABC’s flagship morning news show “Good Morning America” has seen its dominant ratings position erode somewhat as “CBS Mornings” has closed the gap — another source of consternation for OConnell and Disney execs, according to the CNN report.

The Post has sought comment from ABC News and Disney.

Reports of OConnell’s displeasure with Godwin’s lack of leadership come after this week’s high-profile ouster of longtime ABC News weatherman Rob Marciano over his alleged “anger” issues.

OConnell’s review of the news division could spell doom for Godwin and some of her top lieutenants, including executive editor and senior vice president Stacia Deshishku, executive vice president Derek Medina, and Jose Andino, vice president of the office of the president and process management, according to CNN.

Her elevation above Godwin reportedly did not sit well with Godwin, who is said to resent the fact that she cannot report directly to Disney CEO Bob Iger’s inner circle, according to CNN.

Earlier this week, Disney fired “GMA” meteorologist Rob Marciano for reported “anger management issues.” robertmarciano/Instagram

Prior to OConnell’s promotion, Godwin reported directly to Walden, who has been mentioned as a possible successor to Iger.

Godwin is also displeased with what she views as micromanagement by her corporate bosses at Disney, CNN reported.

In March, The Post reported that Godwin, who was effectively demoted despite recently signing a new contract with Disney, told her charges at ABC News: “This is my network.”

“I’m still in charge,” Godwin told staffers on a company call. “This is my network. And if anyone has a problem with that, you can come see me.”

An ABC spokesperson at the time said: “It is not true. She didn’t say that.”

ABC News staffers have also reportedly faulted Godwin for failing to calm frayed nerves in light of Iger’s comments last summer that Disney could sell ABC due to the dwindling audiences tuning in to linear television.

Godwin was faulted for her handling of the public romance between now-former “GMA” hosts TJ Holmes (left) and Amy Robach. REUTERS

Staffers at ABC News have complained that Godwin has imposed a “culture of fear” after laying off dozens of veteran staffers, The Post previously reported.

Godwin and her top lieutenants were accused of firing veteran journalists only to replace them with people who had less experience in news.

She was also faulted for her handling of the relationship between “GMA3” hosts TJ Holmes and Amy Robach, who were allowed to remain on the air even after news of their romance became public.

Some staffers have also griped about Godwin’s self-promotional style that glosses over the serious mission of the news division.

They pointed to Godwin being led on stage by actors dressed as Wakanda warriors from Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” at the opening reception of the National Association of Black Journalists convention in 2022.

Additional reporting by Alexandra Steigrad

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