Although he admitted earlier this week that he was aware of the sexual harassment allegations against NPR’s top news chief years ago, CEO Jarl Mohn chose to address the newsroom leader’s departure in an off the record all-staff meeting on Friday.
That decision also seemed to force NPR’s media correspondent, David Folkenflik, into an awkward position. He tweeted that he wouldn’t be attending the meeting because it was “deemed off the record.”
One minute later, he tweeted the news, presumably from his colleague-sources, that Mohn apologized to the staff, and NPR’s female staffers in particular for not taking action sooner and more “forcefully” about the allegations.
The Washington Post first reported on Tuesday that two women journalists accused Michael Oreskes, NPR’s senior vice president of news, of abruptly kissing them and sticking his tongue in their mouths while talking about work. The incidents date back to the late 1990s, before Oreskes was at the public radio network. NPR later reported that a current female reporter also filed a complaint against Oreskes in 2015.
Oreskes was put on leave and resigned soon after, but in a Wednesday interview with the public radio juggernaut’s program All Things Considered, Mohn admitted that he and NPR’s chief legal officer were both aware of all three allegations against Oreskes but did not take action to remove him from his post until after the Post’s story was published.
According to Folkenflik, Mohn also promised a third-party investigation and to create a new process for employees to raise their concerns. But that’s too little—and far too late—for the employees who’ve already been victimized, and the decision to make the meeting off the record hardly engenders confidence that this is a good faith effort to make sure anyone’s story sees the light of day.
Asked why the decision was made to keep the meeting off the record, NPR spokeswoman Isabel Lara said in an email to Splinter: “The meeting was off the record so staff could speak freely about their experiences. To protect their privacy.”