Michele Norris, co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, is temporarily leaving her post until after the 2012 elections while her husband serves as a senior adviser to the Obama re-election campaign.
Even though she is stepping away from her hosting duties she will continue working at NPR on other projects that don’t involve next year’s elections.
Norris sent a note to the NPR staff explaining her decision:
“I need to share some news and I wanted to make sure my NPR family heard this first. Last week, I told news management that my husband, Broderick Johnson, has just accepted a senior adviser position with the Obama Campaign. After careful consideration, we decided that Broderick’s new role could make it difficult for me to continue hosting ATC. Given the nature of Broderick’s position with the campaign and the impact that it will most certainly have on our family life, I will temporarily step away from my hosting duties until after the 2012 elections. I will be leaving the host chair at the end of this week, but I’m not going far. I will be wearing a different hat for a while, producing signature segments and features and working on new reporting projects. While I will of course recuse myself from all election coverage, there’s still an awful lot of ground that I can till in this interim role.
“This has all happened very quickly, but working closely with NPR management, we’ve been able to make a plan that serves the show, honors the integrity of our news organization and is best for me professionally and personally.
“I will certainly miss hosting, but I will remain part of the ATC team and I look forward to contributing to our show and NPR in new and exciting ways.”
In previous years Norris may not have been forced to step down as co-host as it isn’t specifically required by NPR’s code of ethics, which only mentions being sensitive to apparent conflicts of interest and that the journalist may need to recuse him or herself from certain coverage.
But with the double whammy of the Juan Williams and James O’Keefe scandals rocking the network in the last year, resulting in the departure of two top executives, NPR wanted to make sure that it would be immune from criticism that it has a liberal bias.
Gary Knell the new president and CEO of NPR has vowed to “de-politicize” the network as he attempts to rebuild its image with the public and more importantly on Capitol Hill.
While Norris’ decision is a step in the right direction, NPR has a long way to go before it will be able to convince the public and conservatives in particular that it doesn’t have a liberal bias.
Juan Williams on NPR’s political culture: