Top NPR editor resigns amid allegations of harassment

Posted at 12:23 PM, Nov 01, 2017

NPR’s senior vice president of news Michael Oreskes resigned on Wednesday amid allegations of sexual harassment and improper behavior in his past.

“I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility,” Oreskes said in an internal memo obtained by CNN.

Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director of National Public Radio (NPR), speaks during the rededication of the Journalists Memorial at the Newseum in Washington, DC, June 5, 2017, as the names of 14 journalists who died or were killed while reporting the news in 2016 are added to the memorial. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

“To my colleagues, I am grateful for every minute I’ve had to work with each of you,” he said. “NPR has an important job to do. Public radio matters so much and I will always be your supporter.”

Oreskes came under pressure to step down after The Washington Post reported that he allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward two journalists who were seeking jobs at The New York Times two decades ago.

Both accusers told the Post that Oreskes unexpectedly kissed them during career-oriented business meetings while he was working as the Times’ Washington bureau chief.

After the Post story came out, a third accuser, who currently works at NPR, said she filed a complaint about him to NPR’s human resources department in October 2015, according to NPR’s own reporting. The employee’s complaint said Oreskes “hijacked a career counseling session into a three-hour-long dinner that delved into deeply personal territory” and included mentions of sex with a former girlfriend.

The network, at the time, rebuked Oreskes and informed other executives at the company after the complaint was filed, according to NPR’s reporting.

After the Post story was published on Tuesday, NPR placed Oreskes on “administrative leave.”

In a Wednesday morning memo to staff, hours before Oreskes stepped down, NPR CEO Jarl Mohn stressed that the company was taking the allegations seriously.

“I’m writing to share that I’ve asked Vice President of News Programming and Operations Chris Turpin to take on interim leadership of the newsroom,” Mohn said. “Starting today, Chris will serve in the capacity of the Senior Vice President of News for NPR and oversee both strategic direction and day to day operations related to our journalism.”

Mohn also urged staff to contact human resources, the legal department, or his office directly “if you believe you have experienced or are aware of any incidence of harassment or other inappropriate behavior.”