The News Media Alliance, a journalism industry trade group, ripped Quibi CEO Meg Whitman on Wednesday after she allegedly likened journalists to sexual predators during a tense all-hands meeting last week.
Whitman, who joined the video streaming service in late 2018, reportedly compared members of the media who cultivate sources within a company to sexual predators who “groom” underage victims, according to The Information which citied two people who heard the remarks firsthand. The 63-year-old former California gubernatorial candidate made the remarks while addressing a recent leak of a memo that contained internal financial information.
“It’s not the job of journalism to be compliant to the powerful. It’s to find good sources of information and ask hard questions,” NMA president and CEO David Chavern told FOX Business. “Comparing the normal processes of reporting to the grooming of sexual victims is simply horrific.”
The NMA represents nearly 2,000 news organizations.
During the all-hands meeting, Whitman expressed frustration about the leak penned by Quibi’s chief financial officer about the company’s recent fundraising efforts. Her comments comparing journalists to sexual predators “upset some Quibi employees who described them as strange and off-putting,” according to the report.
Quibi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The media trade website MediaPost received a Quibi statement that read in part: “This reporting from The Information is materially inaccurate... Quibi has the utmost respect for journalists and has hired and is partnering with some of the most trusted names in news and information."
The Information’s report was corroborated by media journalist Yashar Ali, who reported that Whitman also described journalists as “bad, bad people.”
Whitman previously served stints as CEO of eBay and Hewlett-Packard. Aside from her current role as Quibi CEO, Whitman serves on the board of directors for several institutions, including consumer goods firm Proctor & Gamble, cloud storage firm DropBox and nonprofit Teach for America. She also owns a stake in Major League Soccer franchise FC Cincinnati and serves as the team’s alternate governor.
The institutions did not immediately return requests for comment.
Whitman has a personal net worth of $3.8 billion, according to Forbes.
Quibi is a mobile-only video service created by Hollywood titan and former Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Slated to launch in April in a partnership with T-Mobile, last week at the Consumer Electronics Show, Quibi announced it will charge $5 a month for the service with ads and $8 a month ad-free.
Qubi is planning three formats of content: Movies, which will be shown in 7- to 10-minute installments; Unscripted series and documentaries and "clip" shows featuring news and sports highlights, as well as late-night TV.