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The One Word That Just Got a Top Netflix Exec Booted

CEO Reed Hastings says Jonathan Friedland used the n-word on 2 separate occasions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2018 6:30 AM CDT
In this Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, Reed Hastings, CEO and founder of Netflix, right, sits with Jonathan Friedland, global director of communications, as they pose for a portrait during a press conference...   (AP Photo/Berenice Bautista, File)
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(Newser) – Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says he fired the company's top spokesman over use of the N-word, the AP reports. The spokesman, Jonathan Friedland, confirmed in tweets that he was leaving the company, saying he was insensitive in speaking with his team about words that offend in comedy. In a memo to employees, published by Variety and the Hollywood Reporter and confirmed by Netflix, Hastings says Friedland used the word twice—first in a meeting of public relations staff several months ago about sensitive words. Hastings wrote that several people told Friedland how inappropriate and hurtful his use of the word was.

Hastings says Friedland, who is white, later repeated the word with human resources staff trying to address the original incident. Hastings wrote the second incident "confirmed a deep lack of understanding." "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)," Hastings wrote. "There is not a way to neutralize the emotion and history behind the word in any context." Meanwhile, Friedland tweeted, "Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard. ... 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."

(Read more Netflix stories.)

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