Netflix fires longtime communications chief Jonathan Friedland over the usage of N-word in a meeting
Jonathan Friedland has vacated his role as communication chief of Netflix after causing upset over his casual usage of the n-word in a meeting
Jonathan Friedland, streaming giant Netflix's longtime communications chief, has been fired from the company after using the derogatory n-word to describe African Americans during a meeting. The incident allegedly caused outrage amongst others in attendance at the meeting and the subsequent fall out was swift and immediate — Friedland was asked to vacate his position.
Deadline had confirmed the news of Friedland's departure, with the outlet reporting that he had indeed been let go for using n****r. But, before the speculation could proceed further and the narrative take a turn for the worse, he used Twitter to announce that he was leaving Netflix and apologized profusely for his actions.
He wrote: "I'm leaving Netflix after seven years. Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the examples 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."
Friedland had previously served as a journalist, working as the Wall Street Journal's one-time Los Angeles bureau chief and was highly regarded for his unique brand of wit. He spent over 20 years as foreign correspondent and editor at the paper, working across the US, as well as Asia and Latin America.
Furthermore, he had served as a senior vice president of communications at The Walt Disney Co before joining the rapidly rising Netflix as vice president of global corporate communications in February 2011. However, he only became the communications chief after helping the company and CEO Reed Hastings' navigate the much-publicized Qwikster naming farce.
An attempt to rename Netflix's DVD business had backfired spectacularly, and Friedland had ensured that the damage done had not been lasting; the fact that the incident is hardly mentioned these days is a testament to his work. His role in the company involved overseeing media and content publicity for the platform's original series, films, and specials in 190 countries around the world.
It's clear that the former journalist was highly regarded by peers as well as superiors at the company. This incident, however, will likely taint his legacy and his work, though his efforts to right the wrongs are commendable.
Another tweet apologized further for his lapse.' "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," he wrote. "I feel honored to have built a brilliant and diverse global team and to have been part of our collective adventure."
He later tweeted out, "Thanks. Rise high, fall fast. All on a couple of words..." and then quickly deleted it.
Netflix has confirmed that Friedland has left the company, with Hollywood Reporter claiming that Hastings sent a company-wide email explaining his firing at around 12:45 pm PT on Friday.