Did 'GMA' co-host George Stephanopoulos ignore allegations against Michael Corn?
ABC News is facing a massive sexual harassment scandal, and it has now gotten even more dramatic after an internal meeting. Following the lawsuit against ex-senior executive producer Michael Corn by Kirstyn Crawford, the 'Good Morning America' team held an internal meeting. At the meeting, co-hosts Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos were reportedly at each other's throats, with Roberts alleging Stephanopoulos knew about Corn's behavior.
Stephanopoulos recently made headlines for his interview with President Joe Biden, days after the Taliban seized control of Kabul. The controversial interview is one of the many the GMA host has done with Biden, which led some to ask if he was Biden's "handler". Those allegations though, appear to be small cheese compared to the Corn scandal. Sexual assault allegations have already seen the end of Andrew Cuomo's political career, and ABC will be wary of having any of its big stars go down the same road.
As we previously reported, Corn was previously Stephanopoulos and Roberts' boss at GMA, which he oversaw for six years before suddenly leaving in April 2021. Crawford has alleged Corn assaulted her in 2015, and that Stephanopoulos was aware. According to her lawsuit, Stephanopoulos urged her to report the assault up the chain, a fact that has now come back to haunt the host in his battle with Roberts.
Did George Stephanopoulos know?
By all indications, it appears to be the case. We have Crawford's lawsuit as proof Stephanopoulos knew about Corn's behavior. Adding to that is the new allegation by Roberts. According to The Daily Beast, GMA staffers discussed the suit in a team-wide call. During that call, Roberts reportedly declared, "If this happened to someone on my team, I would have burned the place down." The Beast said, "Staffers who heard the remark said it was unsubtly directed at Stephanopoulos."
Reportedly, despite knowing about Crawford's allegations for years ago, Stephanopoulos continued to work with Corn till he quit in 2021. Roberts' comment didn't go down too well, insiders say. According to them, Stephanopoulos was "livid", but his anger appears to have since taken a backseat. Many at the company are now wondering if he did enough to intervene, after knowing about Corn's behavior. Those questions are arising in light of March 2021, when Stephanopoulos threatened to quit ABC over tensions with David Muir. Given his power and influence, Stephanopoulos was able to secure a lucrative contract extension, with a personal visit from Disney's chairman Bob Iger.
He isn't the only furious one. Reportedly, Roberts is also "incensed" that her co-host failed to act, despite knowing. In recent days, she's reportedly made her displeasure known to bosses. On the outside though, ABC has attempted to portray a calm picture. "Robin and George are fine. She told him personally that she wasn’t referring to him and called the team the next day to reiterate that her comment was not about any one individual," a spokesperson told The Beast.
ABC in chaos
Inside though, the situation is very different. Staffers say the environment has been "chaotic" at ABC, with calls in recent days only raising more questions than answers. Crawford alleged that ABC knew about the complaints as early as 2017, and said the network "facilitated the hostile workplace that Corn cultivated through his influence over subordinates’ careers, sexual harassment, gaslighting, and anger management issues." But beyond naming Stephanopoulos and a few other GMA executives, Crawford has not said who else knew at ABC News.
As a result, the network had a "series of hastily organized calls with news executives," which reportedly didn't yield much information. What little we know, is entirely from Crawford's lawsuit. She says that Stephanopoulos spoke to Heather Riley, then-senior director of publicity, and Derek Medina, then-senior vice president for business affairs, and Tanya Menton, vice president of litigation. On Riley's insistence, Crawford did not file a formal complaint fearing retaliation from Corn.
Crawford is not the only person to openly accuse Corn of assault and misconduct. The suit also names Jill McClain as a victim of Corn's actions and added the network didn't take any action. Despite Corn's insistence, he is not guilty, the damning allegations by Crawford have set ABC on fire. As the case proceeds, more information is expected to come out. The extent to which Stephanopoulos knew, and acted will then become much clearer. For now, though, we know that he definitely knew.