Top US editor Michael Oreskes resigns amid claims that he 'kissed women' in business meetings

Michael Oreskes speaking at a forum on journalism.
Michael Oreskes speaking at a forum on journalism.SCREENSHOT: YOUTUBE

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - The top newsroom executive at National Public Radio (NPR) in the US resigned on Wednesday (Nov 1), a day after he was placed on leave by the broadcast news organisation following reports that he had harassed at least three women.

Michael Oreskes quit as senior vice-president and editorial director at Washington-based NPR, the organisation announced.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that two women had complained to NPR last month that Oreskes had abruptly kissed them while they were speaking with him about their job prospects almost two decades ago. At the time, Oreskes was the Washington bureau chief at the New York Times.

In a memo to employees on Wednesday, NPR chief executive Jarl Mohn said he asked Oreskes to resign because of "inappropriate behaviour".

He said Christopher Turpin, vice-president of news programming and operations, would take Oreskes's post on an interim basis.

Mohn wrote, "Some have asked me if it took published news reports for us to take action. 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.

"I know people have asked for more details. 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.

"When anyone, but particularly someone in power, violates a policy, acts in ways that are inappropriate, or takes steps that do not contribute to building a positive workplace, it breaks a trust. That trust is about looking out for each other, doing the right thing, and acting as one team. It is sacred to me. I am committed to rebuilding trust, and my leadership team is as well."

NPR reported late on Tuesday that an NPR employee, Rebecca Hersher, had registered a complaint about Oreskes in October 2015, a few months after Oreskes was hired by NPR from a senior management position at the Associated Press.

Hersher characterised Oreskes' behaviour as an inappropriate conversation.