UPDATED with CBS This Morning comments: Deborah Dugan, the ousted CEO of the Recording Academy, renewed her attacks on the institution in interviews Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, the latter on the longtime network of the Grammy Awards.
On GMA, she said she will still be watching Sunday’s Grammys despite a “tainted” voting process. (Watch video of the GMA segment below).
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On CBS This Morning, she described what others have called “secret meetings.” “In that room not only are there trustees that have conflicts of interest on particular artists that are nominated, but more importantly there are even artists that are nominated that are in the room,” she said. “So for me that’s just such a blatant conflict of interest.” (See that video above.)
In her complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Dugan claimed she was sexually harassed by Joel Katz, the Academy’s general counsel. The document also referred to claims that Dugan’s predecessor, Neil Portnow, allegedly raped an unidentified female recording artist, hastening his departure from the post he had held for 17 years. Both Katz and Portnow have strongly denied the allegations, and four women on the Academy’s executive committee signed a letter rebutting Dugan’s characterization of the organization – and the Grammys by extension – as a boys’ club.
Beyond the allegations of sexual harassment, Dugan has also charged that the Grammy voting process is biased against R&B and rap artists as well as women.
GMA host George Stephanopoulos asked if Grammy viewers should be thinking the “system is rigged” as they watch the CBS telecast. “I’m saying the system should be transparent and there are incidents of conflicts of interest that taint the results,” Dugan said, as attorney Doug Wigdor looked on. “I hate that I’m in this situation because I’d much rather be talking about the artists and the music.”
Stephanopoulos asked about claims of corruption in the voting process. In the 2019 Song of the Year voting, Dugan alleges, an artist who had a low-ranking song that shouldn’t have been a contender ended up with a nomination because they are represented by a member of the Academy’s board.
Asked who the artist is on both shows, Dugan and Wigdor refused to identify them out of concerns for their privacy and “the integrity of all those artists who are going to perform” on Sunday. But she told GMA it was not an isolated case. “I have evidence that in another room — because there were complaints made in the Jazz category …”
In 2019, Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande did not get nominations for Song of the Year, which raised some questions about the Academy’s methods.
“It’s very serious,” Dugan said, “and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could make a difference.”
She repeated her claims on CBS.
“There is a system of taking care of their own,” she told CBS This Morning co-anchor Tony Dokoupil of the Grammy process. “I’ll say that it’s mostly white males that are in those rooms that make these decisions — there’s conflict of interest. Let’s say if you represented that artist, you have a financial gain if they are nominated for a Grammy.”
Asked by Stephanopoulos if she will be watching the Grammy show Sunday, Dugan replied, “I am. I worked very hard on the show and I love the artists that are going to be performing and I love all those that are nominated and those that don’t get the honor of being nominated.”
Stephanopoulos replied, “So, all of us can watch in good conscience as well?” Dugan paused. “Yes. I think so,” she said.
Here is the full GMA interview:
FULL INTERVIEW: "I have evidence…"
— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 23, 2020
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