Michael Oreskes, NPR’s Top News Editor, Quits Amid Sexual Harassment Accusations

Michael Oreskes, NPR’s Top News Editor, Quits Amid Sexual Harassment Accusations

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Michael Oreskes is the latest powerful media leader to face accusations of sexual harassment.

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Frederic Boyadjian

Michael Oreskes, who led NPR’s news division and was formerly a high-ranking editor at The New York Times, resigned on Wednesday after being accused of sexually harassing women.

Jarl Mohn, NPR’s president and chief executive, said in a memo to employees that he had asked Mr. Oreskes to resign “because of inappropriate behavior.”

The move came a day after The Washington Post reported the accounts of two women who said Mr. Oreskes had sexually harassed them in the 1990s when he was the Washington bureau chief at The Times. The women said Mr. Oreskes made unwanted sexual advances as they were discussing career opportunities and advice with him.

After The Post published its report, a current NPR employee, Rebecca Hersher, said she had filed a complaint about Mr. Oreskes with NPR’s human resources department in October 2015. Mr. Oreskes joined NPR in March 2015.

Mr. Mohn said in his memo to employees that NPR had been acting on accusations against Mr. Oreskes before the news reports were published.

“Some have asked me if it took published news reports for us to take action,” Mr. Mohn said. “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.”

In a statement, Mr. Oreskes said: “I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.”

Mr. Oreskes’s career in journalism stretches back some 40 years. He started at The Daily News, where he was labor editor and City Hall bureau chief. He joined The Times in 1981, and held many jobs in two decades at the paper, including chief political correspondent and deputy managing editor. He has also won three Emmy Awards as a producer of documentaries, and he serves on the boards of the American Society of News Editors, City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and Columbia Journalism Review.

Mr. Oreskes is the latest powerful media figure to face accusations of sexual harassment. Since reports began to surface several weeks ago involving allegations of sexual harassment and assault by the entertainment tycoon Harvey Weinstein, the floodgates seem to have opened.

Numerous women have recently come forward to accuse men in leadership positions — in industries including media, fashion and publishing — of sexual misconduct. In recent days, the prominent political journalist Mark Halperin; the longtime New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier; Hamilton Fish, the president and publisher of The New Republic; and Roy Price, a top executive at Amazon, have faced harassment accusations that led to their sudden professional downfalls.

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