ABC News boss Kim Godwin ‘badmouthing’ new boss was ‘last straw’: sources

Embattled ABC News president Kim Godwin stepped down after she was caught “badmouthing” her new boss — the “last straw” in a “confluence” of bad decisions that included the bungled firing of weatherman Rob Marciano last week, The Post has learned.

Godwin — the first black person to lead a major network news division — resigned Sunday to end a chaotic three-year tenure marked by a slew of public missteps that led corporate overlord Disney to bring in veteran executive Debra OConnell in February.

“She was badmouthing Debra. It was the last straw,” an ABC source told The Post on Monday.

Kim Godwin’s short, three-year reign as president of ABC News was chaotic and marked with missteps. Getty Images for The Alliance for Women in Media

The elevation of OConnell was effectively a demotion for Godwin, who was still given a three-year extension by Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Disney is scheduled to report its earnings on Tuesday, and Iger did not want to get bogged down in questions about Godwin, another source close to the situation told The Post.

Her sudden exit followed a blistering report last Friday by the news outlet Puck that claimed Godwin was trashing OConnell to “an associate” over a recent dinner in New York.

A day earlier, CNN reported that Godwin was “in hot water” and “under a leadership review” by OConnell, who was said to be astonished by Godwin’s mismanagement of a division that includes top-rated shows “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight.

“They decided to pull the trigger on her Friday night,” the second source said. “They negotiated a settlement.”

Financial terms of her three-year deal or her payout were not made public.

Debra OConnell was brought in to oversee Godwin in February. OConnell has been conducting a review of Godwin and other top leaders at ABC News. Getty Images

ABC News declined to comment. Godwin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The source told The Post that a “confluence” of events that included the Marciano saga and negative feedback from fellow black employees about their boss played a role in Disney sharpening the ax.

“Debra already knew about Kim was trashing her,” the source said, adding that what upset top brass was learning that nobody in the building supported Godwin.

Godwin (left), who is backstage at ABC’s “The View,” stepped down on Sunday night. @newsmom8 / Instagram

The source cited Puck’s report, which included interviews with black journalists at the network who were worried that Godwin would “use the race issue to insulate herself from criticism or frame the narrative around her seemingly inevitable departure.”

“Race in the workplace is so nuanced that it can be easily weaponized by all sides and bad actors of any race,” a black ABC News veteran told the outlet.

“Disney fell into the trap of the soft bigotry of low expectations and appointed someone everyone knows is unqualified to do the job… Now [they] are worried that firing the first black woman would be an act of racism, when she is simply bad at her job.”

Sources pointed to Godwin’s bungling of Rob Marciano’s exit as one of many issues that led to her early retirement from ABC. Walt Disney Television

The National Association of Black Journalists came out with a full-throated defense of Godwin on Saturday. The organization claimed Godwin’s supporters inside the network had been silenced.

“Those supporters have told NABJ that they see the attacks, perpetrated through media reports, as ‘racially motivated’ or in reaction to her not being in what some in the industry call the ‘good old boy network’ of players,” the organization wrote in its press release.

A source with knowledge said the press release rankled top brass, who expedited the date of Godwin’s exit.

Godwin also allegedly said in several staff meetings that “black people don’t watch the news,” and complained that in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of cops, news networks had “overcompensated for a lack of diversity in the leadership ranks.”

“It’s quite the opposite,” the second source told The Post. “It shows a fundamental lack of knowledge in the audience and that’s troubling.”

“On the bright side, the long national nightmare is over.”

Under Godwin, ABC saw viewership of its cash cow, “Good Morning America,” begin to falter, which alarmed higher ups. AP

Employees are now bracing for more restructuring after Godwin’s departure, with one source adding “the worst of it is yet to come.”

As previously reported by The Post, some sources are pointing at the former president’s top lieutenants, Jose Andino, the vice president of the office of the president & process management, executive editor and senior vice president Stacia Deshishku and executive vice president Derek Medina.

“As we talk about the decline of news, watching these three for the past three years is like watching ‘The Lion King’ and the three hyenas picking up the carcass of Mufasa,” a source said of the three lieutenants.

“Mediocrity hides in the shadows of ambiguity and in this case, it not only hides, it thrives in the ABC News C-suite,” the source added.

Godwin’s mishandling of the relationship between “GMA3” hosts TJ Holmes and Amy Robach was one of the exec’s first big leadership disasters. ABC

In recent days, the source said, Godwin’s bad decision-making returned to haunt her. Marciano, a former “Good Morning America” weatherman, was ousted amid alleged anger issues.

A year earlier, Marciano was “banned” from “GMA’s” set after he allegedly made a colleague feel uncomfortable. Instead of firing Marciano then, Godwin moved him to “World News Tonight” and had him send in reports to “GMA,” a move that prolonged the problem, sources said.

The move was reminiscent of Godwin’s mishandling 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.

OConnell has also reportedly been shocked that Godwin has failed to replace the network’s head of talent, Galen Gordon, more than a year after she had fired him. She also was not happy to see ABC News lose its Washington bureau chief, Jonathan Greenberger, to Politico just months before a historic presidential election.