ABC News president Kim Godwin out

ABC News President Kim Godwin will leave the network after a three-year tenure that has left the top-rated network news division with behind-the-scenes troubles.

Debra OConnell, who was appointed president of Disney News Group and Networks in February 2024, had reportedly been conducting an internal review of management and morale within ABC News.

According to multiple reports, she had grown frustrated of the mismanagement within the news division. OConnell reports directly to Disney co-chair Dana Walden.

When OConnell was brought on board in February, rumblings began almost immediately about what that might mean for Godwin’s future since it shuffle reporting lines within the company. Godwin reportedly doubled-down at the time, notifying news division staffers that she was still in charge of news.

Officially, Godwin’s departure is being billed as a “retirement,” according to a memo she sent staffers late Sunday night May 5, 2024. It’s not clear if Disney execs requested that she announced her departure as a retirement.

Godwin became chief of ABC News in 2021, becoming the first Black woman to lead a network television newsroom.

She renewed her contract with ABC in February, right around the same time that OConnell’s role was created. Insiders have speculated that Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, created that role after top-level executives became aware of employee complaints about Godwin.

The terms of Godwin’s contract were not announced and it is not clear if she will receive a severance package, especially since she just re-signed, though her move of leaving quietly may have been part of her exit deal.

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According to CNN sources, Godwin took a much more hands-off approach to management. Some of her supporters noted that staffers were simply not accustomed to Godwin’s style, though even some of them acknowledged Godwin might not be suited for the role of president of the news division.

Detractors also noted Godwin lacked a strategic plan for the division. She also was criticized for shutting down the division’s talent-relations department and for creating a so-called “inner circle” that created animosity within the division.

Although “ABC World News Tonight” and “Good Morning America” have continued to perform well in the ratings, the numbers at “GMA” have been dipping in recent months, which likely triggered more concern among higher-ups.

Until ABC decides on a new leadership structure, OConnell is will be in charge “for the time being,” she announced.