E! is defending the pay gap that led to the departure of E! News host Catt Sadler.
E! chief Frances Berwick (president of Lifestyle Networks at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment) told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena, California, on Tuesday that slams of the network were not deserved —
and that outsiders were operating from a lack of information.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” Berwick said. “Catt Sadler and Jason Kennedy had different roles and therefore different salaries. Catt was focused on daytime. Jason Kennedy is on primetime evening news, plus red carpet. Our employee’s salaries are based on their roles and their expertise regardless of gender. We wish Catt well, but I hope that sets the record straight on that.”
Berwick made the statement after E!’s panel presenting Citizen Rose, the cable channel’s upcoming documentary series following actress and activist Rose McGowan. One critic asked McGowan about the pay gap controversy at the network. “That came about after I had already done my deal,” McGowan said. “I will say that, ‘No, let me hang out a while,’ maybe things will change. Probably if you’re sitting next to a woman and you work the same job as her and you [asked], ‘What do you get paid?’ I almost guarantee you’re being paid more. There is a difference, and that is systemic. You can call it against E!, you can call it out against every single job there is, because it’s not illegal to discriminate that way.”
Sadler left the network after reportedly discovering a “massive” disparity between her and colleague Jason Kennedy’s salary. During Sunday’s Golden Globes red carpet pre-show, E! was called out by actresses Debra Messing, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Eva Longoria live on the network. “I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female cohost the same as their male cohost,” Messing said Sunday. “I miss Catt Sadler. So we stand with her. And that’s something that can change tomorrow. We want people to start having this conversation that women are just as valuable as men.”
On social media, Julianne Moore, Brie Larson, and Amy Schumer also lent their support. “If you’re on the carpet tonight or at home post in support and ask E! what happened?” Schumer posted. “We thought you would be for pay equality and say #ImWithCattSad.”
In a statement to PEOPLE on Sunday after her pay dispute was mentioned on the red carpet, Sadler said, “I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of support today. Thank you to Amy, Debra, Eva, Brie, Julianne and so many more women using their voices on behalf of us all. Time’s Up.”