MPR Veteran Quits, Accuses Editors of Inaction on Misconduct Story

Marianne Combs tweeted her resignation letter Monday, accusing her editors of dragging their feet on her story about accusations against a DJ at sister channel, The Current

Minnesota Public Radio

Minnesota Public Radio’s Marianne Combs quit Monday, sharing on Twitter she had been pursuing a story about sexual misconduct accusations against a DJ at a sister channel, The Current. MPR, she said, hasn’t moved forward on the story out of fear of a lawsuit.

I have spent the past two and a half months investigating allegations made about the conduct of a DJ at our sister station, @TheCurrent. In that time, I gathered testimony from eight women who say that he sexually manipulated and psychologically abused them,” the arts reporter wrote. She spent over 23 years at the station.

She shared details of her reporting process, saying she’d spoken to women who said their experiences took place over 15 years and one church camp director who said the DJ’s conduct with teenage girls made him ineligible to continue volunteering at the church.

“I found out that in June he was fired from another job where he worked with children; that organization is now conducting an investigation into his time there,” she noted, then said she took her reporting to a lawyer for review.

“The lawyer judged the story to be compelling and well-sourced, with strong supporting documentation. She saw no legal threat to MPR News for airing the story,” Combs said. “Despite this, my editors have failed to move forward on the story. They have countered that the DJ’s actions were, for the most part, legal, and therefore don’t rise to the level of warranting news coverage. They described him as ‘a real creep,’ but worried that airing a story about his behavior would invite a lawsuit.”

She said she has no confidence the editors will handle the story “appropriately,” and “by dragging our feet and sending the implicit message that their cause is not an urgent one, we are as good as silencing them.”

A representative for MPR did not immediately return a request for comment.

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