NPR host Michele Norris is temporarily stepping down from the afternoon news show "All Things Considered" because her husband has taken a senior role in President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. But "stepping down" doesn't fully explain the move, as she'll still be producing segments and working behind the scenes.
In a note sent to NPR staff Monday and posted on the network's website, Norris says her husband's new role could make it difficult to continue hosting the show. She says she is temporarily stepping away from hosting the actual show until after the 2012 elections:
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 advisor 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.
My very best,
Norris says she will recuse herself from all election coverage but will continue reporting for NPR on other subjects. She steps down as host at the end of the week.
"All Things Considered" is also hosted by Robert Siegel and Melissa Block.
The move comes as NPR "fired" host Lisa Simeone, who hosted an opera show distributed by NPR and another show produced by the network, after it was found she was the spokeswoman for the Occupy D.C. movement.
NPR spokesperson Anna Christopher confirmed to the The Atlantic Wire that Norris's move is temporary and that she will continue to report for the outlet:
Michele Norris told our staff and stations today that she will temporarily step down from her role as co-host of All Things Considered. She will instead report for NPR, producing signature pieces and covering topics unrelated to the election.
This change occurred due to the fact that her husband, Broderick Johnson, took on the role of senior advisor to the Obama campaign, effective today.
But all that raises the question: Even though Norris will not be hosting or reporting on politics, could her presence as a reporter and behind the scenes still affect coverage?
NPR seems to have answered, "no." But there are probably many others who have doubts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.