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NPR Chief News Editor Departs After Harassment Allegations

NPR's newsroom during election coverage on Nov. 8, 2016. The network has been rocked in recent weeks by allegations of sexual harassment.
Stephen Voss
NPR's newsroom during election coverage on Nov. 8, 2016. The network has been rocked in recent weeks by allegations of sexual harassment.

NPR Chief News Editor David Sweeney has left the company following allegations of sexual harassment filed against him by at least three female journalists.

"David Sweeney is no longer on staff," Chris Turpin, acting senior vice president of news, said in an email to staff.

"This is a difficult time for our newsroom and I'm committed to supporting all of you as we move forward. I know you appreciate that there are some questions I cannot answer in keeping with our practice to not comment on personnel issues, but I will do my best to address those I can," Turpin added.

In the email to staff, Turpin says that senior manager Edith Chapin will resume her role as executive editor, assuming duties that Sweeney held most recently.

The email did not directly state the cause for Sweeney's departure. But this follows a formal internal review into his conduct, after three current and former NPR journalists made formal complaints against him.

The complaints against Sweeney were filed after Michael Oreskes, NPR's senior vice president of news and editorial director, was forced to resign on Nov. 1 over sexual misconduct allegations.

And it also followed greater scrutiny of the issue after revelations about Bill O'Reilly and the late Roger Ailes, both of Fox News, and prominent Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

In the aftermath of the Oreskes revelations, NPR leadership has encouraged people who were subject to inappropriate behavior to come forward and is working to make the process of reporting harassment more transparent. It has also sought to strengthen protections for accusers.

As NPR has previously reported, one former NPR producer said that Sweeney unexpectedly kissed her in an encounter in 2002 while they were in a car on loan for a story. In 2007, an NPR journalist said that Sweeney attempted to kiss her when they went out for drinks to discuss her career. The two journalists spoke on condition they not be named.

A third journalist, NPR editor Lauren Hodges, said that Sweeney repeatedly made her the recipient of unwanted attention and unsolicited gifts while he was her supervisor in a way that made her deeply uncomfortable.

In an emailed statement on Tuesday after NPR's announcement, Hodges said she was pleased with the outcome. "I hope it provides a loud, clear message to anyone struggling with harassment...and more importantly, to those who think they can get away with it," she wrote.

Sweeney could not immediately be reached to respond to Turpin's announcement. This story will be updated with his comment.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.
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