ABC Suspends Producer Over Bush-Bashing
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 1, 2006; C01
ABC News suspended the executive producer of the weekend edition of "Good
Morning America" yesterday over a pair of leaked e-mails in which
he used inflammatory language to slam President Bush and Madeleine Albright.
John Green, whose unpaid suspension will last one month, apologized to
the White House in a call to communications director Nicolle Wallace,
while two ABC executives called the former secretary of state to apologize.
"No one is sorrier than John for the embarrassment that these albeit
private e-mails caused to his colleagues and to the people who were the
subjects of those comments," said ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider.
"John would be the first to say this has been a real lesson to him.
John is abjectly sorry for all the comments that have come to light, and
In one of the e-mails, written during the first presidential debate in
2004 and leaked to the Drudge Report, Green wrote to a colleague on his
BlackBerry: "Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses
the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke."
Green, who was not made available for comment yesterday, wrote his colleagues
after that leak to say "how much I regret the embarrassment that
this story causes ABC. It was an inappropriate thing to say, and I'm deeply
Wallace said yesterday that she "appreciated the call and the apology."
The second leaked e-mail surfaced Thursday on the New York Post's gossipy
Page Six. In that note, Green wrote that Albright should not be booked
on the show because "Albright has Jew shame."
Albright, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, acknowledged her Jewish
heritage in 1997 after it was discovered by Washington Post reporter Michael
Dobbs in the course of researching a book.
Green wrote in that note that "she hates us anyway because she says
we promised her five minutes and only gave her two . . . I do not like
her." An ABC insider said Green was reacting to a heated dispute
between Albright and a network producer.
The Albright Group, a global strategy firm founded by the former Clinton
cabinet member, took the diplomatic route. "Secretary Albright has
always had an excellent relationship with 'GMA' and with ABC and she still
does," her office said in a statement. "In fact, she looks forward
to appearing on 'GMA' on May 2 in connection with the release of her book
on U.S. foreign policy and the importance of religious tolerance."
Both e-mails were disclosed at a time when public distrust of news organizations
and their ability to be fair are at or near an all-time high.
The suspension was ordered by Kerry Marash, senior vice president for
editorial standards, and approved by ABC News President David Westin.
Green, who got his job in 2004 as the Saturday and Sunday editions of
the morning show were being launched, has worked for ABC for 12 years.
He is highly regarded by many of his colleagues, and the show is in second
place on Saturdays, trailing NBC's "Weekend Today," but is in
third place on Sundays, when "CBS Sunday Morning" is No. 1.
It is widely believed at ABC News that the e-mails were leaked by a former
employee who has a vendetta against Green.
"Everyone who works at ABC News is unhappy with the situation because
it reflects on all of us," Schneider said. But, he said, "I
don't think the e-mails tell us anything about the show John Green was
putting on the air every Saturday and Sunday, which is fair and balanced
and down the middle."