UPDATED, 9:40 AM: Embattled NPR exec Michael Oreskes has resigned a day after two women came forward with accusations of sexual harassment during the 1990s. “This morning I asked Mike Oreskes for his resignation because of inappropriate behavior,” NPR CEO Jarl Mohn wrote in an email to staff today. “I have received his resignation, effective immediately.”
Oreskes was the Washington bureau chief at The New York Times during the time of the alleged harassment, but an NPR reporter today cited a claim from a current employee of the pubcaster from two years ago. Rebecca Hersher filed a formal complaint with NPR’s human resources division in October 2015, saying Oreskes “hijacked a career counseling session into a three-hour-long dinner that delved into deeply personal territory.” Hersher, then a 26-year-old assistant producer on Weekend All Things Considered, told reporter David Folkenflik that she considers the incident less severe but felt it crossed a line and made her uncomfortable.
PREVIOUSLY, October 31: NPR has put its Senior Vice President of News/Editorial Director Michael Oreskes on indefinite leave after two women said he made unwanted physical contact with them when he was the Washington bureau chief at the New York Times in the 1990s. The women, both journalists, spoke to the Washington Post for a report published today on the condition of anonymity.
Oreskes joined the public broadcaster in 2015 from a senior editor position at the Associated Press.
The two women told similar stories to the Post, saying that after discussing potential jobs at the NYT he, in separate incidents, “unexpectedly kissed them on the lips and stuck his tongue in their mouths,” according to the Post. It said the women spoke with NPR’s attorney in charge of labor and employment matters this month, and the lawyer acknowledged NPR was looking into the matter.
The claims come as several high-profile figures including Harvey Weinstein have been accused of sexual harassment and sexual abuse over the decades. Today, Netflix shut down production on House of Cards amid claims against the series’ star Kevin Spacey. The women said they came to NPR after the news organization’s coverage of the scandal.
“The idea that he’s in charge of that coverage is just so hypocritical to me,” one of the accusers told the Post. “It’s sickening. I want to say: ‘You owe me . . . a public apology. You should recuse yourself” from NPR’s coverage of harassment.
Said an NPR spokesperson in a statement to media outlets: “We take these kinds of allegations very seriously. 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. As a matter of policy, we do not comment about personnel matters.”