Is National Public Radio in danger of being left staff-less?
Tom Ashbrook, the 16-year host of NPR’s “On Point,” was put on leave on Friday over allegations of “creepy” sexual harassment against 11 young women and men who worked for him on his radio show.
Ashbrook’s accusers on Thursday submitted a multi-page complaint to WBUR in Boston, where Ashbrook’s “On Point” is produced.
The station confirmed the complaints in interviews with over a dozen current and former “On Point” employees.
According to the complaint, Ashbook engaged in “creepy” sex talks, and gave staffers unwanted hugs and neck and back rubs.
They also accused the NPR icon of emotionally distressing angry outbursts.
A former producer who signed the complaint said she worried for the young women who work under Ashbrook.
“I worry that Tom’s behavior discourages young women from continuing in journalism,” she told WBUR.
The former producer went on to explain how her time working with Ashbrook allegedly affected her.
“Working at ‘On Point’ as a young woman in journalism sets up a very bizarre understanding of expectations. It has taken several years to adjust my understanding of what is normal behavior and what is not in the workplace.”
Another former employee alleged that Ashbrook’s behavior led to high turnover on the program.
“Management was happy to tolerate high turnover in the interest of keeping it quiet,” the former staffer said. “Some left journalism because of Tom and that to me is unconscionable.”
WBUR and the station’s owner, Boston University, placed Ashbrook on leave while they investigate the allegations.
Ashbrook sent the station a text in which he said he’s “proud of the many people who have worked with me during my 16 years at WBUR. I have always tried to be a leader and supportive of them, and many of them have gone on to highly successful careers in radio, journalism and other fields.”
The suspended host touched on the subject of the outbursts, but asserted they were inappropriate for the work environment at the station.
“In the pressure of a live radio environment, I have at times been a tough and demanding boss. We aspire to put out a top-notch show. Many people have thrived in that environment; a few have not,” he said.
The “On Point” host claimed to be “stunned that a few former colleagues have apparently come forward with allegations that have not been shared with me. I have no idea what is being alleged, nor by whom.”
Ashbrook concluded by saying:
“I can’t describe how deeply upsetting this is to me. I am sure that once the facts come out that people will see me for who I am – flawed but caring and decent in all my dealings with others.”
NPR chief editor Michael Oreskes and Chief News Editor David Sweeney resigned late last month over sexual harassment charges.
The slew of allegations against NPR employees has some Americans wondering whether the government should continue providing funding to the media organization.
And now for the rest of the story- American taxpayers still subsidizing NPR.
— Build Kate’s Wall Now! (@Portland_jet) December 12, 2017
National Propaganda Radio needs to be silenced once and for all. Cut all funding and it will sink like a lead weight.
— Jay Lawrence (@jaylaw2012) December 12, 2017
— Kambei (@DavidPollack7) December 12, 2017
I never really bought the whole projection thing. But the implosion of all these leftist loons has me thinking it is real.
— sean???????? (@roaddog9501) December 12, 2017
The MAGA Purge continues. Pass the popcorn.
— george sorosky (@dr_democracy99) December 12, 2017
I bet those creepy sex talks were done in that arrogant whispered NPR tone.
— CB4 (@itscb4) December 12, 2017
— Jon Volpe (@therealjonvolpe) December 12, 2017