Our tax dollars are being well spent for public radio, all left-wing news outlets that have obviously tolerated and enabled a toxic culture of sexual misconduct against women for quite some time. You can now add WNYC public radio icon John Hockenberry to a list that also includes David Sweeney, NPR’s chief news editor; Garrison Keillor, Minnesota Public Radio icon; WNYC hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz; and Michael Orsekes, NPR’s senior vice president and editorial director.
The last three were fired over allegations of misconduct. Lopate and Schwarts are on an “indefinite leave.”
Hockenberry, however, was allowed to “honorably” retire in August of this year after nearly three decades of co-hosting the morning news program “The Takeaway” for WNYC, which was heard on 270 stations. This early retirement at age 61, occurred six months after a sexual harassment complaint had been filed against him.
The woman who filed the complaint, Suki Kim, a journalist with a focus on North Korea, claims that the married-with-five-kids Hockenberry repeatedly asked her out. “Any interest in a museum and coffee?”; “Next time maybe we could try for something outside in the park maybe the Met or something”; “Let’s do a date”; and “Need more Kim.”
A July 2016 email with the subject line “Need another dose of you,” was the final straw. Kim broke off contact. She claims Hockenberry would not go away and received emails that read, “Let me know if I am bugging you or creeping you out?”; and “Miss you.”
Although she was not responding, she received eight emails in as many months.
Kim admits this is “mild stuff in a world of dropped pants, rape, and secret buttons to lock women in rooms,” but other female co-workers allege much worse.
Kristen Meinzer claims that when she told Hockenberry about landing an important guest, the wheel-chair bound NPR icon “rolled right up to me at my desk, grabbed my face, and started kissing me. I moved my head away and pushed him away, and I said, ‘No, no, please don’t.’”
His reply was, “I just want to kiss you because I’m so thankful.”
Meizner claims the harassment continued on social media.
About a photo of Meizner and her husband, Hockenberry asked, “Doesn’t one of you have herpes at least?” Using Gchat, he said to her, “Everyone thinks you have a secret life as a dominatrix” and “Do you think about anything other than sex?” and “you and your sex obsession.”
An anonymous accuser claims that while staying at a hotel due to a snowstorm, Hockenberry asked her to come to his room to discuss the show. Once alone with him, “He came up and put his arms on mine, and kissed me. Then he said, ‘I love you. We’ve always had this special thing.’ I pushed him away, and said ‘This cannot happen.’ I ran out of the room.”
A forth accuser, also anonymous, claims that after she submitted her resignation in 2013, his Gchatting at all hours “unnerved” her. Want to get a hotel room?” he asked. She later reported the incident to two of her bosses. Hockenberry apologized.
An college-aged intern hoping to interview Hockenberry got these responses: “Let’s get some Spanish wine in you.” And “Let’s get you drunk.”
Writing for the Guardian, Adaora Udoji, a co-host with Hockenberry, does not allege any sexual misconduct but rather years of bullying that she describes as “excruciating.” Like some of the others, she says she complained to the chain of command, but nothing was done.
“How in the world could this abuse go on for nearly 10 years across three different co-hosts and among other staff and nothing be done? How is that he was rewarded for that behavior with a show by himself in light of a reported trail of complaints?,” she asks.
To tell her story and demand accountability, Udoji is violating the non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2009 when her contract was bought out.
In less than two months, five powerful men, paid in part with taxpayer dollars, have been fired or put on leave due to sexual misconduct. Another was apparently forced to retire early.
These are our elites. These are our left-wing arbiters of taste and truth. And we the taxpayers are subsidizing all of it.
UPDATE: This piece has been updated to correct the distinction between National Public Radio and localized public radio.