NPR Gets Radio Host Fired for Occupying
in short, NPR claims Soundprint acted on its own to fire Simeone
but NPR was publicly pushing the issue -- see that blog post I linked to
and the Soundprint exec producer referred to NPR's ethics policy when firing Simeone
NPR also pushed WDAV to take action (presumably by firing Simeone, no other actions having been discussed) and WDAV refused, resulting in the announcement by both WDAV and NPR that WDAV would not fire her
Simeone has been fired by Soundprint but not by WDAV]
National Public Radio on Wednesday discovered that a woman named Lisa Simeone who
produced hosted a show about opera called "World of Opera" had been participating in a nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., organized by October2011.org. That same day, NPR persuaded a company for which Simeone worked to fire her, cutting her income in half and purging from the so-called public airwaves a voice that had never mentioned politics on NPR.
This frantic email was sent to all NPR staff:
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 6:12 PM
Subject: From Dana Rehm: Communications Alert
To: All Staff
Fr: Dana Davis Rehm
Re: Communications Alert
We recently learned of World of Opera host Lisa Simeone’s participation in an Occupy DC group. World of Opera is produced by WDAV, a music and arts station based in Davidson, North Carolina. The program is distributed by NPR. Lisa is not an employee of WDAV or NPR; she is a freelancer with the station.
We're in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously.
As a reminder, all public comment (including social media) on this matter is being managed by NPR Communications.
All media requests should be routed through NPR Communications at 202.513.2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We will keep you updated as needed. Thanks.
Also see NPR's blog post about this here.
About three and a half hours after the above email was sent, Simeone had been fired by a show called Soundprint as punishment for having been "unethical." Here is her bio on that show's website. And here she is on NPR's.
Soundprint is a show that does touch on politics and includes political viewpoint in Simeone's ledes, but it is not an NPR program and not distributed by NPR. It is, however, heard on public radio stations. Despite the title "NPR World of Opera," that show is produced by a small station called WDAV for which Simeone contracts. Simeone was not an NPR employee. WDAV has not expressed any concern over Simeone's "ethics."
Simeone told me: "I find it puzzling that NPR objects to my exercising my rights as an American citizen -- the right to free speech, the right to peaceable assembly -- on my own time in my own life. I'm not an NPR employee. I'm a freelancer. NPR doesn't pay me. I'm also not a news reporter. I don't cover politics. I've never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I've done for NPR World of Opera. What is NPR afraid I'll do -- insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?
"This sudden concern with my political activities is also surprising in light of the fact that Mara Liaason reports on politics for NPR yet appears as a commentator on FoxTV, Scott Simon hosts an NPR news show yet writes political op-eds for national newspapers, Cokie Roberts reports on politics for NPR yet accepts large speaking fees from businesses. Does NPR also send out 'Communications Alerts' about their activities?"
Let's be clear about Simeone's political activities. We have three quarters of the country wanting billionaires taxed, two-thirds wanting wars ended, large majorities wanting funding moved from the military to green energy and education and jobs. Simeone has been taking part in a nonviolent encampment designed to facilitate the petitioning of our government for a redress of grievances, a right guaranteed by the First Amendment. That's all. She has been participating. Nothing more. There is nothing more specific to the allegation, nothing in particular that she has allegedly done other than participate in a nonviolent mass mobilization on behalf of majority opinion.
It may be difficult for NPR bigwigs to understand why we don't all just rent $400 per night hotel rooms instead of littering a public square with tents. But NPR's highly paid political agitators on behalf of the 1% are part of the problem. They are what we are protesting. And that is presumably what makes our speech and assembly "unethical."
Or perhaps the breach of ethics is to be found in behaving as a decent citizen while simultaneously possessing some connection to the most insidious corporate loudspeaker in the country, one labeled "public" but belonging to the 1%.
The most important point to stress here, I think, is that all requests should be routed through NPR Communications at 202-513-2300 or email@example.com
UPDATE: NPR claims not to have caused the Soundprint firing (and to only be pushing for action against Lisa by WDAV):
Your post this morning was wholly inaccurate. We’d ask you to please make corrections immediately.
To set the record straight, here are the facts:
It has been reported that NPR had a role in the decision made by the management of the public radio program Soundprint to end its relationship with Lisa Simeone as the program's host. This is not true. Soundprint is an independent public radio program that is not produced by NPR. NPR had no contact with the management of the program prior to their decision. We learned about it after the fact, through media reports.
Other than Lisa's role as host, Soundprint and WDAV's World of Opera are completely unrelated. As we indicated last night, we are in conversation with WDAV about this matter. We fully respect that the management of WDAV is solely responsible for the decision making around Lisa's participation in Occupy DC and her freelance role with WDAV's program.
You may find more at our blog, www.npr.org/thisisnpr
When will you correct your post to remove NPR from the equation?Please let me know if you have questions.
| Anna Christopher Bross | Director, Media Relations | firstname.lastname@example.org | 202.513.2304 | 202.680.3848 | @NPRanna
UPDATE 2: WDAV has stood strong in the face of NPR pressure and will not fire Simeone. NPR has confirmed this:
Classical public radio station WDAV says Lisa Simeone will continue to host World of Opera.
Please contact WDAV for further details: http://www.wdav.org/default.htm
Simeone thus far remains fired from Soundprint.
UPDATE 3: The Executive Producer of Soundprint, when firing Simeone, told her on the phone that she had violated NPR's code of ethics. She [the executive producer of Soundprint] brought NPR into it.
UPDATE 4: Public supports Simeone on WDAV website: Read the comments below the post.