NPR’s Top Editor Michael Oreskes Forced to Resign After Sexual Harassment Allegations

“I have received his resignation, effective immediately,” says NPR CEO Jarl Mohn in a staff memo

NPR’s Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director Michael Oreskes was forced to resign from the company one day after the Washington Post reported that two women said he had made unwanted sexual contact two decades ago while employed by the New York Times.

“This morning I asked Mike Oreskes for his resignation because of inappropriate behavior,” NPR CEO Jarl Mohn said in a staff memo on Wednesday. “I have received his resignation, effective immediately.”

Mohn denied that the Post report had triggered the company’s actions, and declined to specify whether any current NPR employees had reported misconduct.

“The only way to encourage staff to come forward with any issues is to promise their concerns will remain confidential,” he wrote in his memo. “That constrains us from providing details about personnel matters.”

Oreskes’ career swiftly imploded on Tuesday after the Post report in which two unnamed women said that Oreskes had unexpectedly kissed them on the mouth during meetings about their job prospects.

The women said the two encounters occurred two decades ago, when Oreskes served as the New York Times’ bureau chief in Washington, D.C.

In an earlier statement, NPR said it took any accusations of sexual harassment very seriously, but declined to specifically address the charges leveled against  Oreskes.

“If a concern is raised, we review the matter promptly and take appropriate steps as warranted to assure a safe, comfortable and productive work environment,” an NPR spokesperson told TheWrap. “As a matter of policy, we do not comment about personnel matters.”

You can read Mohn’s full memo here.

This morning I asked Mike Oreskes for his resignation because of inappropriate behavior. I have received his resignation, effective immediately. As I noted earlier today, Vice President of News Programming and Operations Chris Turpin has taken on interim leadership of the newsroom.

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.