E! News is usually just a conduit for pop culture, but they found themselves front and center during the Golden Globes when stars like Debra Messing called out the fact that E! News anchor Catt Sadler left the network over pay disparity. According to an open letter on her personal website, Sadler made significantly less money than her counterpart, Jason Kennedy, despite starting at the network at the same time and having what she felt were the same responsibilities.
After celebrities shined a light on this controversy, NBCUniversal's president of Lifestyle Networks Frances Berwick responded to the backlash on Tuesday during a TCA panel for Rose McGowan's new docuseries.
"Catt Sadler and Jason Kennedy had different roles and therefore different salaries," Berwick said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
Kennedy's wife, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, also defended the network in a post on her blog last month, claiming that her husband has also been on the wrong side of a pay gap.
"At one time my husband had a female co-host on E! News who made three times his salary and another female co-host was paid more than him as well," she wrote. According to THR, those co-hosts were Giuliana Rancic and Maria Menounos.
However, Sadler told the outlet that neither of these defences hold up.
"My experience, frustration and disparity was based on Jason Kennedy and myself being apples to apples. We came to the network at the same time and did similar jobs," she said "For people to use the argument that Giuliana somehow made more money than Jason, that comparison doesn't work. They're apples and oranges. She joined before him, she was managing editor, she had multiple shows on the network. It's unfortunate that people who don't work there are trying to be the voice for the network. The only story I can tell is my truth and the truth speaks for itself."
While this standoff may never have a satisfying conclusion (seeing as the damage was already done for the past twelve years), Sadler is optimistic about the future.
"The beauty of a brand-new start is that I can take my own story," she explained to THR. "I'm comforted by the fact that people have reached out to me and want to meet with me. I am thrilled with that. In this weird, sense, I feel like, I have an obligation to do work and represent the many voices who don't have an audience. Between #MeToo, Time's Up and the general climate right now, I would prefer to use my voice in a way that could create content that has never been made before."
Both #MeToo and Time's Up work to shed light on the inequality women have silently faced for too long in all industries, initially focusing on sexual harassment and abuse, but now broadening to address the unfortunately many ways women are overlooked, including compensation. The only bright side of the reckoning is that, by coming forward, women like Sadler forge a new, better path for those that follow.
Refinery29 has reached out to E! News for comment.