National Public Radio's news chief Michael Oreskes resigned Wednesday following allegations he had kissed two women who were seeking jobs while he was Washington bureau chief at The New York Times in the 1990s.
NPR CEO Jarl Mohn said he asked Oreskes for his resignation "because of inappropriate behavior," in a note to NPR's staff.
Oreskes had been placed on leave Tuesday, the same day a story in The Washington Post detailed two women's stories about meeting with Oreskes to talk about job prospects and his unexpectedly kissing of them and sticking his tongue in their mouths.
He is among a growing list of media figures facing harassment allegations. On Monday, NBC News fired political contributor Mark Halperin after a CNN report last week accusing Halperin of sexually harassing women while he worked at ABC News in the late 1990s and much of the 2000s. Penguin Press announced it would cancel deals for a book by Halperin and longtime collaborator John Heilemann about the 2016 presidential election, and HBO canceled a project based on the book.
Hamilton Fish, the president and publisher of the New Republic, was placed on a leave of absence Monday following charges against him. Also last week, The Atlantic dropped contributing editor Leon Wieseltier, the New Republic's longtime literary editor, after numerous women said they had been sexually harassed by him.
These revelations follow The New York Times' report four weeks ago about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's three decades of predatory behavior.
In a statement given to NPR, Oreskes said, "I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility."
Mohn said in the note to employees that the published reports were not what caused NPR to act. "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," he said in the note, a copy of which was emailed to USA TODAY.
"I know people have asked for more details," Mohn continued. "The only way to encourage staff to come forward with any issues is to promise their concerns will remain confidential. That constrains us from providing details about personnel matters."
Also on Tuesday, Rebecca Hersher, a reporter and producer on NPR's science desk, discussed on NPR's All Things Considered a dinner meeting with Oreskes that made her feel uncomfortable. She reported the incident to NPR's human resources department and said she believed the network had held Oreskes appropriately accountable, according to a story written by NPR reporter David Folkenflik.
Hersher spoke out after the Post report of the allegations from two decades ago.
Chris Turpin, NPR's current vice president of news programming and operations, will take on interim leadership of the newsroom, Mohn said.
Oreskes was a vice president and senior managing editor at The Associated Press from 2008 until he joined NPR in 2015. He joined the New York Times in 1981 and also served as executive editor of Times-owned The International Herald Tribune, in addition to other jobs at the Times.