2018 has barely begun, and it is already the year of reckoning.
It all started last year with the #MeToo movement spurred by the revelation that noted Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed, assaulted, and raped numerous women. From there, the revelations steamrolled, with powerful men across multiple industries becoming implicated for their decades of harassment. Then the attention turned, as it so often does, from sexual harassment to other forms of gender bias.
The United States has a notoriously deep gender gap, and the film industry, like so many others, is not immune from it. In December 2017, veteran E! network anchor Catt Sadler announced her resignation from the network due to the pay gap.
Sadler, then host of the daytime show The Daily Pop and a frequent co-host of the nightly E! News, discovered that her co-host was making nearly double what she was. As she explained via her personal blog, The Catt Walk:
[…] An executive from E brought something alarming to my attention — namely, that there was a massive disparity in pay between my similarly situated male co-host and myself. More recently, when E reached out to renew and extend my deal, I learned that he wasn’t just making a little more than I was. In fact, he was making close to double my salary for the past several years.
Sadler tried to negotiate with the network, but they weren’t having it. Facing an immovable opponent, Sadler decided to leave the network she’d worked with for over a decade.
Women – particularly celebrity women – rushed to Sadler’s defense calling out the network. Debra Messing, bless her soul, even called out E! on E! during the Golden Globes.
Women were calling on each other to boycott E! and to force the network to make amends. Now, less than half a week after Messing’s delightful Golden Globe messiness and half a month after women’s concerted efforts, the network is finally addressing the Catt Sadler elephant in the room.
During the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Frances Berwick, president of NBCU Cable Entertainment’s lifestyle networks (which include E!), denied accusations that Sadler’s pay disparity was due to her gender.
Stating there was a lot of “misinformation in the press,” Berwick explained,
Jason Kennedy and Catt Sadler had different roles, and therefore different salaries. 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.
Social media users quickly called out Berwick’s statement for what it was – complete and utter tripe.
Calling B.S. on this statement @e_entertainment. Not only did @IAmCattSadler host the Daily Pop but was often the co-host on E! News at nights, pulling a double. And don’t even try and tell me she didn’t work red carpets. ? Nice try but #TimesUp on this bullsh*t. https://t.co/6wMliLUJ7H— michelle young (@MichelleSY_22) January 9, 2018
in which e! tries to rewrite history and say catt sadler wasn’t a red carpet reporter https://t.co/RnzKTmogmr— its me frankie (@frankiegreek) January 9, 2018
I watched E! News every day to see Catt Sadler (after Maria left) & Jason Kennedy doing the same damn job. Catt, like Jason, also does red carpet. (remember the crazy-ass interview w/ Jim Carrey?) To say Catt was “focused on day time” is a turdburger answer. #TIMESUP https://t.co/3b6tqPF6ge— Kay Cannon (@KayKayCannon) January 9, 2018
After all, Sadler was a fixture on E! News, which airs nightly, as well as the host of several E! Live From the Red Carpet Events.
Hmm they both seem to have done the red carpet. Try again. pic.twitter.com/T21jN5F0m7— Ian Gardner (@iandoogie) January 9, 2018
Only time will tell how E! will respond to the new morass it has landed itself in, but one thing is clear – women’s voices are finally being heard, and they will continue to make an impact as the year unfurls.
To the sisterhood of strong women using their voices on my behalf – I’m humbled, grateful, and beyond inspired by your relentless pursuit of what’s fair for ALL women. @amyschumer @DebraMessing @EvaLongoria @SJP@brielarson I salute you, love you, and miss you too. #TimesUp— catt sadler (@IAmCattSadler) January 8, 2018