NPR’s Michael Oreskes Placed on Indefinite Leave Following Sexual Harassment Allegations
NPR is investigating allegations by two women who accused Michael Oreskes, NPR’s senior vice president for news, of sexual harassment.
The women allege Oreskes harassed them while working at the New York Times nearly two decades ago, according to The Washington Post. NPR has placed Oreskes on indefinite leave in response to those allegations as well as one from a current employee at the radio network.
Oreskes, who was the Times’ Washington bureau chief at the time of the allegations, allegedly kissed the women during business meetings he was having with them about their prospects. The Washington Post notes that the women spoke to them on the condition of anonymity “so as not to damage their employment prospects.”
Nevertheless, the report encouraged a current NPR employee to go public with her own account of an incident involving Oreskes. According to NPR, Rebecca Hersher filed a formal complaint with NPR’s human resources in October 2015 following a career counseling session that turned into a “three-hour-long dinner that delved into deeply personal territory.”
Following Hersher’s report, NPR reportedly “rebuked Oreskes and informed other top network executives.” NPR’s report of the incident notes that Hersher was “satisfied with the company’s response” and that she did not face any retribution. Oreskes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But the latest allegations published in The Washington Post “changed the equation” for the network, according to a staff note sent by NPR CEO Jarl Mohn.
“We take these kinds of allegations very seriously. If a concern is raised, we review the matter promptly. We take all appropriate steps to assure a safe, comfortable, and productive work environment for everyone at NPR. … This is our NPR. And I will stand up for it, and every one of you,” he wrote.
The accusations against Oreskes are the latest in a series of sexual harassment claims against powerful figures. Following the ground-breaking New York Times report detailing decades of predatory behavior by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, allegations have emerged regarding the behavior of a number of figures in Hollywood, tech, and the media.