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The Godwin Complex

kim godwin
Godwin has not actually led the news organization: Instead, she has made performative (and mostly cringey) attempts to improve ABC’s once notoriously cutthroat culture while apparently bolstering her own reputation on the conference circuit. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for ColorComm
Dylan Byers
May 3, 2024

Kim Godwin, the embattled president of ABC News, was at dinner with an associate in New York the other day when she began airing a familiar grievance: She was being micromanaged by Debra OConnell, the Disney veteran who was recently appointed president of the Disney News Group—and who, as I’ve reported, is a hard-driving, no-bullshit, results-oriented leader who has moved fast to acquaint herself with the newsroom, ascertain the root causes of its current torpor, and assert herself as the news division’s true boss.

Godwin’s complaint appeared to betray not just insecurity, but also a stunning lack of self-awareness. OConnell’s elevation, two and a half months back, was an obvious vote of no confidence in Godwin. Indeed, Dana Walden, the Disney Entertainment co-chair, had created an entirely new position for OConnell in order to effectively demote Godwin and distance Burbank from the melodrama playing out at West 66th Street. So of course OConnell had been meddling—that was her mandate. And this was apparent to everyone at ABC—and across the broader industry—except, apparently, Godwin herself.