Did NPR's Stern Fire Himself or What?

Last Updated Mar 10, 2008 8:21 PM EDT

logo_npr.gifOne unusual aspect of last week's management change at National Public Radio is that the man who fired CEO Ken Stern and has replaced him an Interim CEO, Dennis Haarsager, is a veteran blogger and a good one at that.

So, when Haarsager promised on Friday that he would offer a full version of what had happened on his blog on Sunday, many of us held fire and waited.

Alas, Haarsager apparently changed his mind -- or more likely, heard from an attorney.

His Sunday posting is nothing more than mumbo-jumbo. "I'm not going to comment on the reasons for this change except to say they were multivariate and that much of what's been speculated about this is dead wrong. "

That prompted me to post the following to his blog:

Hi Dennis.
Please comment on my report on BNET that you walked into Stern's office Thursday, told him he was done and that it was time for him to leave the building. Thank you.
Also, with all due respect, the public deserves more than your statement that the reasons for firing him were "multivariate." Transparency is necessary to retain the trust you need to help during this transition.
Either you or the Board should issue a statement explaining this management change, which shocked most people at the station levels around the country.
Otherwise, I fear the tasks awaiting you will be more difficult than they ought to be... Thank you for considering my questions.

Later on Sunday, Haarsager responded:

I cannot comment in detail on this personnel matter except to say that Mr Stern chose the time and day when he left the building. I've given interviews to several reporters on this, including our own, and answered questions as best I could with the entire staff. I've said repeatedly that no malfeasance or misfeasance should be imputed...

Are we to conclude, then, that Stern effectively fired himself?

I believe there's a better word than "multivariate" for that. It's usually employed by the initials "B.S."

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.