Bob Garfield, longtime co-host of WNYC’s On the Media, has been fired by the station’s parent entity New York Public Radio for violating its anti-bullying policy, one of a series of measures instituted after a storm of harassment and abuse accusations several years ago that led to high profile exits of on-air personalities and managers.
Garfield, who has hosted the weekly hourlong show with Brooke Gladstone for 20 years, was fired after two separate investigations found he had violated NYPR policy. He had also been disciplined and warned after an inquiry in 2020. Gladstone will continue to host On the Media, the Peabody Award-winning show with millions of listeners broadcast by over 400 public radio stations. It offers deep-dive and witty analyses of pressing issues of the times from politics and race to climate and Covid through the lens of media and media coverage.
Garfield took to Twitter on Tuesday to plead his case, saying he was fired “not for ‘bullying’ per se, but for yelling in 5 meetings over 20 years. Anger mismanagement, sorry to say. But in all cases, the provocations were just shocking. In time, the story will emerge…and it is tragic. On the Media was the pride and joy of my career.”
“I am righteously aggrieved, but not blameless. Disgusted, not surprised. It’s an appalling tale, which I guess will be told. Meantime, thank you for listening these 20+ years,” he said.
Garfield is the first high-profile departure at the organization since longtime WNYC hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz were fired in late 2017 after complaints of inappropriate behavior. Just before that, the host of The Takeaway, Jon Hockenberry, was accused of sexual harassment in a scathing article in Vulture that came out several months after he had retired with kudos from the station. A raft of subsequent news coverage described an environment at WNYC that could be tough on female and Black employees and a lack of response by management. An outside law firm NYPR hired to investigate found that that bullying and harassment were often not reported. In response, the company put a number of new policies in place.
Chief content officer Dean Capello left amid the furor, which also contributed to the eventual exit of NYPR CEO Laura Walker in 2019.
Here’s NYPR’s statement today:
New York Public Radio has terminated the employment of Bob Garfield, co-host of On the Media, as a result of a pattern of behavior that violated NYPR’s anti-bullying policy. This decision was made following a recent investigation conducted by an outside investigator that found that he had violated the policy.
Bob was also the subject of an investigation in 2020, which also found that he had violated the policy, and which resulted in disciplinary action, a warning about the potential consequences if the behavior continued, and a meaningful opportunity to correct it.
On the Media is an invaluable companion to listeners across the country — airing on 421 public radio stations and reaching millions of people on-air and online. Host and Managing Editor Brooke Gladstone will continue to host the show and — together with the OTM team — will deliver the rich and incisive analysis that so many rely on and look forward to each week.
We recognize Bob’s contributions to our industry and our listeners. We also affirm NYPR’s commitment to providing an inclusive and respectful environment for our employees, guests and listeners.
So grateful for the well wishes, and understanding of the opprobrium. This is a messy affair, in which I am righteously aggrieved, but not blameless. Disgusted, not surprised. It’s an appalling tale, which I guess will be told. Meantime, thank you for listening these 20+ years https://t.co/KN01VjGZIo
— Bob Garfield (@Bobosphere) May 18, 2021
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