CPB Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer Ken Ferree resigned Wednesday to join California law firm Sheppard & Mullin, which is expanding its D.C. telecommunications presence, according to CPB spokesman Michael Levy.
CPB is hiring an executive search firm to find a replacement. In the interim, Fred DeMarco, executive VP and senior adviser to President Patricia Harrison, will assume Ferree's duties.
Ferree, former Media Bureau Chief under FCC Chairman Michael Powell, had joined CPB as COO in March, when Powell also exited, and was named acting president when Kathleen Cox left abruptly last April.
Ferree had thrown his hat in the ring for the top spot, but was moved into the COO slot when the CPB picked Patricia Harrison, the choice of board Chairman Ken Tomlinson, to be president.
Media activist groups had criticized the hiring of Ferree as another stage in the perceived coup against liberals in public broadcasting by Republican Kenneth Tomlinson, but the naming of Harrison, former Republican National Committee co-chair, elevated Ferree's status.
"Harrison is cleaning house," said Center for Digital Democracy's Jeff Chester. "They want absolute loyalty and are going about it in a ruthless way."
Ferree has denied there’s an agenda to turn public stations into right-wing mouthpieces, but he has also defended a move, led by Tomlinson, to include more conservative voices on stations that are supported, in part, by taxpayer dollars.