Longtime ‘On the Media’ host Bob Garfield fired amid allegations of repeated bullying

A man and a woman pose, seated, behind a microphone that says "WNYC."
Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, co-hosts of the “On the Media” program, in one of WNYC’s studios in 2005.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Bob Garfield, co-host of “On the Media” on WNYC since 2001, has been fired for alleged repeat violations of New York Public Radio’s anti-bullying policy.

The firing follows the second investigation into Garfield’s behavior at work. The first, last year, concluded that he violated the policy, and he was disciplined and formally warned; the second found he violated it again.

In a statement Monday, NYPR said, “New York Public Radio has terminated the employment of Bob Garfield, co-host of On the Media, as a result of a pattern of behavior that violated NYPR’s anti-bullying policy. This decision was made following a recent investigation conducted by an outside investigator that found that he had violated the policy.


“Bob was also the subject of an investigation in 2020, which also found that he had violated the policy, and which resulted in disciplinary action, a warning about the potential consequences if the behavior continued, and a meaningful opportunity to correct it.”

Garfield, journalist, author and podcaster, responded via tweet Monday: “I was fired not for ‘bullying’ per se, but for yelling in 5 meetings over 20 years. Anger mismanagement, sorry to say. But in all cases, the provocations were just shocking. In time, the story will emerge ... and it is tragic. On the Media was the pride and joy of my career.”

NYPR did not immediately respond to interview requests.

On the Media” covers “sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with over one million weekly radio and podcast listeners,” according to its website, and is carried on 421 stations. It has won Edward R. Murrow and Peabody awards. Garfield’s co-host, Brooke Gladstone (recipient of two Peabodys herself), takes over as host and managing editor, according to the site, which has already scrubbed Garfield from its “Team” page.

NYPR’s statement went on to say, “We recognize Bob’s contributions to our industry and our listeners. We also affirm NYPR’s commitment to providing an inclusive and respectful environment for our employees, guests and listeners.”

After fans responded to Garfield’s tweet acknowledging his firing, he added, “So grateful for the well wishes, and understanding of the opprobrium. This is a messy affair, in which I am righteously aggrieved, but not blameless. Disgusted, not surprised. It’s an appalling tale, which I guess will be told. Meantime, thank you for listening these 20+ years”


After Twitter user @Rich_Scarymucci wrote, “Historically, Mondays have been difficult for Garfields” (a reference to the beloved comic-strip cat’s never-ending battle with the start of the week), Bob Garfield responded, “I usually hate Garfield jokes, but just this once …”

He also urged fans who posted on his page that they were planning to cancel their NYPR memberships not to do so: “Please do not abandon OTM or WNYC. I have an employment dispute that will be dealt with in the proper venues. But the work of WNYC and OTM is priceless. Please continue your support.”

Just as Santa Monica-based public radio station KCRW has dealt with accusations of a pattern of racist behavior, NYPR has been rocked in recent years by allegations of “inappropriate workplace behavior by several employees,” such as sexual harassment, racial bias and bullying. These included specific allegations of harassment against “The Takeaway” host John Hockenberry, whose contract was not renewed in 2017. Although Hockenberry admitted and expressed regret over his behavior, two other hosts fired in subsequent weeks in light of sexual harassment allegations against them, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, pushed back.

Schwartz called his suspension “outrageous”; he said to WNYC of a 2014 complaint that he had frequently commented on a female colleague’s appearance, “Can’t a man say, ‘You look good. Gee, you’re attractive’?”

One female producer told WNYC that Lopate “made everyone cry at some point”; Lopate denied misconduct and said he was “really sad and totally shocked” by his firing, calling it “unjust.” Lopate landed a new show five months later on both a community radio station in Pawling, N.Y., and a Connecticut NPR station.

A 2018 outside investigation by Proskauer Rose LLP “did not find evidence of pervasive discrimination” at NYPR, according to a statement by the NYPR board of trustees. However, it found “anti-harassment policies were poorly communicated and enforced” and “anti-bullying policies were inadequate and there were specific instances of bullying and offensive behavior by several employees toward colleagues and guests.”