E! network attempted to deflate the fire surrounding its apparent gender wage gap, which was exposed by former host Catt Sadler and fanned by Debra Messing on the Golden Globes red carpet.
Following the controversy, Frances Berwick, president of Lifestyle Networks for NBCU, which includes E!, took the stage at the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday to address the "misinformation" that led to its embarrassing situation.
"Jason Kennedy and Catt Sadler had different roles, and therefore different salaries," Berwick said to the audience. "Catt was focused on daytime; Jason Kennedy is on prime evening news, plus red carpet. Our employees' salaries are based on their roles and their expertise, regardless of gender. So we wish Catt well, but I hope that sets the record straight on that."
His message came after a reporter asked Rose McGowan, who booked docuseries Citizen Rose with the network, if she felt uncomfortable working for a company who doesn't practice her values as a leader of the #MeToo movement.
"That came about after I had done my deal," McGowan said of Sadler's public resignation. "I will say, let me hang out a while — maybe things will change."
McGowan added that "you can all it out against E!" but gender wage discrepancy is apparent in all industries.
Sadler left the entertainment network as a host in December after she discovered her co-host Kennedy earned "close to double" her salary.
On the Golden Globes red carpet, Messing blindsided E! host Guiliana Rancic during a live broadcast as they discussed the "Time's Up" movement, which represents gender equality in the workplace, among other issues.
Debra Messing drags E! (while being interviewed on E!): "I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn't believing in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts" pic.twitter.com/HF3B2uhwtF— David Mack (@davidmackau) January 7, 2018
"I was so shocked to hear that E! does not believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts," the Will & Grace star criticized. "I miss Catt Sadler… and we stand with her. That's something that can change tomorrow, you know? We want people to start having this conversation that women are just as valuable as men."
Other celebrities followed Messing's lead in calling out the network for its perceived ethical missteps, including Amy Schumer and Eva Longoria, among others.
Eva Longoria piles on E!: "We support gender equity and equal pay, and we hope that E! follows that lead with Catt as well. We stand with you, Catt."
Ryan Seacrest: " I love Catt. We love her." pic.twitter.com/rtKoBO5XCW— David Mack (@davidmackau) January 8, 2018
Sadler wrote on her website and social media accounts that she and Kennedy were of similar positions and experience, but the network refused to award them with similar compensation.0comments
"I have two decades experience in broadcasting and started at the network the very same year as my close friend and colleague that I adore," she wrote following her exit. "How can I operate with integrity and stay on at E if they're not willing to pay me the same as him? Or at least come close? How can I accept an offer that shows they do not value my contributions?"
It was revealed in December that Sadler earned around $600,000 a year, while on-air colleague Jason Kennedy earned between $1 million and $1.2 million per year.