NPR’s Oreskes resigns following sexual harassment claims

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Rich Orris/PRPD

Michael Oreskes speaks at the Public Radio Program Directors conference in August 2017.

Michael Oreskes resigned Wednesday, a day after the Washington Post published accounts by two women who said Oreskes had made unwanted physical advances on them in the 1990s.

“This morning I asked Mike Oreskes for his resignation because of inappropriate behavior,” CEO Jarl Mohn said in an all-staff memo obtained by Current and confirmed by NPR. “I have received his resignation, effective immediately.”

In a statement quoted by The Associated Press Wednesday, Oreskes said “my behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.”

NPR put Oreskes on leave Tuesday following the Post’s report. David Folkenflik, NPR media correspondent, also reported that NPR producer Rebecca Hersher filed a formal complaint in October 2015 about an incident with Oreskes.

Chris Turpin, VP of News Programming and Operations, will lead the newsroom on an interim basis, Mohn said.

The memo continued:

Some have asked me if it took published news reports for us to take action. The answer is that it did not. We have been acting. Some of the steps we took were visible and others weren’t. We have a process in place and we followed that process.

I know people have asked for more details. The only way to encourage staff to come forward with any issues is to promise their concerns will remain confidential. That constrains us from providing details about personnel matters.

When anyone, but particularly someone in power, violates a policy, acts in ways that are inappropriate, or takes steps that do not contribute to building a positive workplace, it breaks a trust. That trust is about looking out for each other, doing the right thing, and acting as one team. It is sacred to me. I am committed to rebuilding trust, and my leadership team is as well.

NPR hired Oreskes in April 2015 as its SVP of news and editorial director. He was previously VP and senior managing editor at The Associated Press.

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