NEWS
23/06/2018 12:20 BST

Netflix Fires Jonathan Friedland After Head Of Communications Uses 'N-Word'

Jonathan Friedland said he felt 'awful about the distress this lapse caused'.

Netflix has fired its head of communications over his use of the “N-word” during conversations with colleagues.

Jonathan Friedland said on Friday that he felt “awful” about the impact his actions have had after it emerged he allegedly first used the slur in a descriptive sense during a discussion about the use of offensive terms in comedy.

Head of the streaming giant, Reed Hastings, said he had “let go” of the chief communications officer after learning he allegedly used the “painful and ugly” term again while discussing the initial incident with human resources.

Friedland, a former journalist who had worked at Netflix for seven years, said he felt “awful about the distress this lapse caused”.

In a lengthy internal memo to staff reported by Variety, Hastings said Friedland had “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 chief executive said.

The initial incident is said to have taken place “several months ago” in a public relations meeting about sensitive words.

Clasos via Getty Images
Jonathan Friedland (left) and Reed Hastings pose for a photo during the celebration of the first anniversary of Netflix in Mexico in 2012.

A few days later, in discussion with HR about the incident, he used the term again in front of two black employees, Hastings said.

During a later meeting with the Black Employees @ Netflix group, Friedland failed to mention the episode, which was perceived as a failure to care or accept accountability for his words, the memo said.

Hastings said he only learned of Friedland’s alleged use of the term on a second occasion in recent weeks, which prompted him to sack him.

“Many of us have worked closely with Jonathan for a long time, and have mixed emotions,” the boss said.

“Unfortunately, his lack of judgment in this area was too big for him to remain.”

During Friedland’s time at Netflix it has risen to one of the web’s biggest players, reportedly valued at more than 140 billion dollars (£106 billion).

The former journalist has spent more than seven years with Netflix and was previously working in financial and legal communications for The Walt Disney Company.

He previously spent more than 20 years as a foreign correspondent and editor for the Wall Street Journal and Far Eastern Economic Review, according to his Linkedin profile.

“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,” he said on Twitter.

“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.”

Friedland’s departure from Netflix is the latest in a series of top executives resigning over inappropriate behavior.

Ford Motor Co former US chief Raj Nair departed abruptly in February after a probe on his behavior, while Intel Corp former Chief Executive Brian Krzanich resigned on Thursday over a relationship with an employee.