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“Earlier today, Carlos Watson submitted his resignation from the NPR Board of Directors,” said LaFontaine Oliver, the chair of NPR’s board, in a statement Friday. “I have accepted his resignation on behalf of the Board. Mr. Watson’s resignation is effective as of today.”
The board’s governance committee was scheduled to meet Friday in a special session where the matter was expected to come up. Watson had been a board member of NPR since 2016.
The decision serves as a capstone to what has been a brutal week for Watson and Ozy Media. It began with a New York Times exposé by columnist Ben Smith, a story that raised doubts about many of Watson and Ozy’s claims about their business. It also reported that an Ozy executive — Watson said it was COO Samir Rao — impersonated a YouTube executive as part of a fundraising meeting with Goldman Sachs.
Following the story, Watson stepped aside as the host of the News and Documentary Emmy Awards; Ozy’s board hired a law firm to conduct an investigation; the board’s chair, investor Marc Lasry, stepped down, saying that “Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations”; and the company lost one of its star talents, former BBC anchor Katty Kay, who had just joined a few months earlier.
Follow-up reports have suggested that much of Ozy’s digital traffic was purchased or manipulated, and that Watson lied to producers of his interview show The Carlos Watson Show, telling them it would be airing on A&E (it would not), and later telling staff that it was a YouTube Original, which is a program commissioned by YouTube (it was not).
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