NPR news chief who resigned over #MeToo claims joins new website aiming to restore faith in media

NPR news chief who resigned over #MeToo claims joins new website aiming to restore faith in media

A former Fox News executive has hired a fired NPR news chief who was accused of sexual harassment to help launch his new website that aims to restore faith in the media.

Ken LaCorte is expected to launch LaCorte News by the end of January with the assistance of former NPR News boss Michael Oreskes, Politico reported.

He has also hired former Fox News executive editor John Moody, who had a column pulled by the news outlet in February after it was widely considered to be racist and anti-gay. Moody left the company after the controversy.

“I couldn’t have afforded either one of these guys had we not been in this crazy type of atmosphere. … In a weird way, I’m actually a beneficiary of companies being hypersensitive,” LaCorte said of the hires.

LaCorte envisions the website to be a “fair and balanced” alternative to other news sites. “I’m proud that I pulled in both the former head of news at Fox News and the former head of news at NPR,” he said. “I’m not going to be egotistical enough to say I’m going to save journalism, but I’m fucking trying.”

LaCorte was not concerned about what the hires could mean in terms of the site’s ability to cover issues such as sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era and race and sexuality.

Oreskes, 64, resigned in November 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment by several women. Two women accused him making unwanted sexual advances toward them during meetings in the 1990s while he was Washington bureau chief for the New York Times. An NPR employee said a dinner she had with Oreskes in 2015 about career advice turned into a conversation about sex and relationships, which made her uncomfortable.

One of his victims told the Washington Post her experience with him permanently eroded her confidence and had blighted her life. She had been in her late 20s at the time and had just arrived in Washington from a small town thousands of miles away. She said: “When I first went to see him, it was after screwing up my nerve to try to be bold and maneuver myself into a better job, and after what happened with him, I never really tried that again.”

He invited her to have lunch in a room catered by room service at the Watergate Hotel, placed an ad trying to contact her in the “adult services” section of a newspaper, and forcibly kissed her in a cab. The woman said: “The worst part of my whole encounter with Oreskes wasn’t the weird offers of room service lunch or the tongue kiss but the fact that he utterly destroyed my ambition.”

Moody resigned from Fox News in March 2018 after penning a column critical of the focus on the diversity of Team USA at the winter Olympics in South Korea. He referred to the athletes as “darker, gayer, different.” The column was removed from Fox News’ website and the company said Moody’s views did not “reflect the values” of the news organization. Moody said the column was meant to be sarcastic.

LaCorte said: “I think that Mike Oreskes is a good man and a great journalist. I am more troubled by this kind of new McCarthyistic era where people are blown out of careers for relatively minor things that might have happened decades ago or being sarcastic in an op-ed.”

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