Netflix’s chief of public relations, a job that essentially means serving as the voice of the company, reportedly said the N-word two separate times in front of fellow workers.
CEO Reed Hastings sent a letter to staff Friday afternoon announcing that Jonathan Friedland has been fired, while explaining why, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which obtained the company-wide email.
“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,” wrote Hastings. “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.”
But that incident wasn’t an outlier and the only aberration.
“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,” Hastings continued, providing a fair amount of detail. “The second incident confirmed a deep lack of understanding, and convinced me to let Jonathan go now.”
Friedland never really apologized after the first instance, according to Hastings, even at a meeting for their “Black Employees @ Netflix group” which many had expected to be the moment where he comprehensively addressed his very poor choice of words.
“I’m leaving Netflix after seven years,” Friedland, who used to work as vice president of corporate communications at Disney, told The Hollywood Reporter. “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. 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.”
How sorry he truly is, however, has been obscured after a screenshot captured by The Hollywood Reporter shows that he said the following on Twitter following his firing: “Rise high, fall fast. All on a couple of words…”
A replacement for Friedman has not been named yet.
Hastings also took the time to address the company to explain when he thinks the use of the N-word is appropriate and for whom.
He wrote, according to The Hollywood Reporter:
Debate on the use of the word is active around the world (example) as the use of it in popular media like music and film have created some confusion as to whether or not there is ever a time when the use of the N-word is acceptable. For non-Black people, the word should not be spoken as there is almost no context in which it is appropriate or constructive (even when singing a song or reading a script). There is not a way to neutralize the emotion and history behind the word in any context.
Netflix is a fast-growing company with original film and television projects around the world, also offering streaming services in more than 190 countries. It is helping contribute to what appears to be one of the most competitive times in television in which a new golden age seems to have manifested itself with a profusion of content-viewing platforms and programs. (RELATED: Amazon Is Getting So Powerful, It’s Now Essentially A Film Studio)
Netflix did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation in time of publication.
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