Debra Lee On Extramarital Affair With BET Founder & Alleged Blackmail

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Former BET CEO, Debra Lee is opening up in her newest memoir, I Am Debra Lee. The book discusses her tenure at the cable network and the challenges she had to face along the way. One topic that she admitted to in the book was her affair with BET founder, Bob Johnson.

Lee said that she wants to help women succeed in the workplace with her book. She joined Good Morning America Tuesday to discuss the book and a specific passage about her romantic relationship with Johnson. She told GMA’s Robin Roberts that she worked for the founder for 10 years before they began anything romantically.

“He was a mentor and he pushed me. He was responsible for a lot of my success,” Lee said. “We did have a relationship while we were both married, we ended up both divorced. And then people knew about the relationship. The company knew … we started going places together. The downfall of a relationship like that is if you want to get out of it. It came, and I wanted to break up. I saw it wasn’t a long-term relationship. And my job and my career was held over my head.”

Lee then details the way Johnson threatened her career when she decided to call it quits. “If you want to break up with me, you can leave tomorrow,” she says Johnson told her after she attempted to break up with him. “That was 20 years into my career at BET, so I would’ve lost everything.”

The Status of BET

Lee’s memoir comes as BET is going through a transitional period. Its parent company, Paramount, is trying to raise money by shedding assets to pay down debt. Tyler Perry and L.A.-based media mogul Byron Allen have both expressed interest in purchasing a majority stake in the network.