NPR fires host that acted as Occupy DC spokesperson

posted at 12:55 pm on October 20, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Should journalists become activists as well as advocates?  Paul Krugman drew a line between the two in his explanation for his absence from the Occupy Wall Street protests, which drew some hoots of derision, but which might look a little more reasonable after NPR fired a host for becoming an Occupy DC spokesperson:

After violating National Public Radio’s ethics code by acting as a spokeswoman for Occupy DC protesters, Lisa Simeone was fired Wednesday evening from one of the two public radio programs she hosts, the Associated Press reports.

Simeone was fired from “SoundPrint,” an internationally syndicated program appearing on NPR affiliate WAMU in Washington, D.C. The official who fired Simeone reportedly did so over the phone and read NPR’s ethics code to her during the call.

WAMU describes “SoundPrint” as “the aural equivalent of photojournalism” and says the Simeone-hosted program explores “news, history, and culture.”

The firing comes after The Daily Caller and others reported that Simeone violated NPR’s ethics policy by acting as a spokeswoman for the Occupy DC group “October 2011,” the organization currently “occupying” Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.

That may not be the end of it for Simeone, either.  She hosts a show about opera on North Carolina’s WDAV which is also distributed by NPR.  The future of that show looks pretty sour as NPR has also announced that they are in “conversations” with WDAC on “how to handle this.”

Roll Call first broke this story on Tuesday after challenging Simeone on the ethics policy at NPR.  Simeone responded that the ethics policy didn’t apply to her as a “freelancer,” to which Neda Semnani expressed considerable skepticism:

One major commandment of journalism: If thou art a hack, thou mustn’t flack. …

“A journalist is always attached to journalism,” WAMU News Director Jim Asendio said. He also told HOH that WAMU uses the same code of ethics as NPR.

“Just substitute WAMU for NPR,” he said. (Since she kinda works for both, we just added.)

I think NPR did the right thing here about “SoundPrint,” which is clearly a news-oriented show where questions about bias would undermine its credibility.  I’m not really sure the same applies to “World of Opera,” however, which should have little to do with modern politics.  If the opera show has been successful, there doesn’t seem to be a need to dump Simeone — unless NPR is unhappy about a lack of communication and other assorted issues of having this tossed in their face by Roll Call, The Daily Caller, and a series of conservative blogs.  That would certainly be understandable, under the circumstances.

There is one certain outcome from this fracas: Simeone really is a free-lancer now.

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“Should journalists become activists as well as advocates?”

It’s called “Journalism 101″…

/

Seven Percent Solution on October 20, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Is Ed Schultz next? Geraldo?

faraway on October 20, 2011 at 12:59 PM

NPR is just doing what they want. Creating job openings.

MikeA on October 20, 2011 at 12:59 PM

To MSNBC with her.

listens2glenn on October 20, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Listened on NPR news the last couple of days after reading about her. They don’t seem to cover very much about their own scandals.

The firing was appropriate. (Now she can really spend some time with them)

hawkdriver on October 20, 2011 at 1:00 PM

These people think they are above it all. She could have at least asked her employer if there would be a conflict but no, she instead chose to go forward and do it her way.

Blake on October 20, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Never would have happened had not conservatives exposed NPR in the Juan Williams debacle.

mankai on October 20, 2011 at 1:00 PM

NPR does the right thing! (after being called out on it).
What sad org.

bernzright777 on October 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

If they didn’t fire her after what they did to Juan Williams, then they had no ethical feet to stand on. They were stuck with this choice due to past actions.

I think though this is all nonsense. I am sick and tired of pretend objectivity. I want to know where those who report the news stand. Because if you claim objectivity I distrust you instantly.

NotCoach on October 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Gee, is a Nelson Muntz “HA HA” appropriate here? I’m not sure.

Jeddite on October 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

I was at a Tea Party event and an NPR radio person went around to everyone holding a sign to get an interview, hoping for the crazy. Me, a black man wearing a Tea Party tshirt INVISIBLE. An I purposely approached her…

This reporter simply acted in a normal fashion. She and her coleagues are sympathetic she just got caught, like the doctors writing fake sick notes in Wisconsin.

Theworldisnotenough on October 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

When you lie down with anarchists….

TeresainFortWorth on October 20, 2011 at 1:03 PM

the Simeone-hosted program explores “news, history, and culture.”

That’s not the same as penning screeds attacking any and all conservative ideas.

pedestrian on October 20, 2011 at 1:03 PM

i find it hard to believe that there is a huge audience for a show called “The World of Opera”

negentropy on October 20, 2011 at 1:03 PM

She can write ads for Romney now…

right2bright on October 20, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Wait; How can they fire someone who isn’t a employee?

At least the way I understand it, she was a freelancer… So at worst, she can complain that they decided that they didn’t meed her product any more.

LegendHasIt on October 20, 2011 at 1:04 PM

If they didn’t fire her after what they did to Juan Williams, then they had no ethical feet to stand on. They were stuck with this choice due to past actions.

I think though this is all nonsense. I am sick and tired of pretend objectivity. I want to know where those who report the news stand. Because if you claim objectivity I distrust you instantly.

NotCoach on October 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

I am with you on this. Better to require all folks in the news business to make public all donations of time and money to any cause. Then we can decide for ourselves how objective we think they are.

OBQuiet on October 20, 2011 at 1:05 PM

I was at a Tea Party event and an NPR radio person went around to everyone holding a sign to get an interview, hoping for the crazy….

Somebody pointed out in an article the other day that reporters had to look REALLY hard to find the fringy kooks at any Tea Party event.

At the “Occupy” events, the reporters are having to look really hard to find people who AREN’T the fringy kooks…

And yet, we’re both “the same” in their eyes -

TeresainFortWorth on October 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM

I was at a Tea Party event and an NPR radio person went around to everyone holding a sign to get an interview, hoping for the crazy. Me, a black man wearing a Tea Party tshirt INVISIBLE. An I purposely approached her…

This reporter simply acted in a normal fashion. She and her coleagues are sympathetic she just got caught, like the doctors writing fake sick notes in Wisconsin.

Theworldisnotenough on October 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

They ignored you because your WAAAACIST !!!!!!
Didnt you get the memo. if your NOT whitebread you cannot belong to the tea party, or the republican party. As an American of mexican descent, I get it all the time people look at me like am crazy to be republican. We dont fit their mental mold so we dont exists.

ColdWarrior57 on October 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM

It’s absolutely the right move. Good for NPR.

bifidis on October 20, 2011 at 1:10 PM

How about the Rev Sharpton..? oops, he’s not really a “journalist”…is he?

d1carter on October 20, 2011 at 1:12 PM

This says a lot about the culture at NPR that would allow a supposed news person to think this would be appropriate behavior. NPR fired her not because they believe a code of ethics should be equally applied, but in the interest of self preservation.

RadClown on October 20, 2011 at 1:12 PM

I guess she can go full time “freelancer” now.

portlandon on October 20, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Freelance journalists never have a nice day…..

Rovin on October 20, 2011 at 1:13 PM

WAMU describes “SoundPrint” as “the aural equivalent of photojournalism” and says the Simeone-hosted program explores “news, history, and culture.”

I swear that’s all I hear when I turn on NPR now.

“We visit the collective of [insert poor country] women as they knit organic scarves out of hemp” [15 seconds of random noise, with a little bit of foreign chatter]

Wow, what great radio. I always wondered what a foreign knitting collective sounded like!

NPR = useless information designed for consumption by upper class white people to make them feel more worldly.

strictnein on October 20, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Theworldisnotenough on October 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Oh geez, you’re black? How the hell did you get in here? Quick someone! Where did we put out Tea Party Lynch-O-Matic?

I kid of course. I have a suggestion though. Wear a Che t-shirt at the next rally you attend. I bet leftist journalists will be interested than. There is the danger though of your fellow Tea Party supporters shunning you. So use this power carefully.

NotCoach on October 20, 2011 at 1:14 PM

To MSNBC with her.

listens2glenn on October 20, 2011 at 12:59 PM

I see what you did there. :-)

Mary in LA on October 20, 2011 at 1:16 PM

The Fat Lady has sung.

Cicero43 on October 20, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I think NPR did the right thing here about “SoundPrint,” which is clearly a news-oriented show where questions about bias would undermine its credibility.

In other words, it was biased, which everyone on the right knew, and everyone on the left denied.

WitchDoctor on October 20, 2011 at 1:18 PM

File this in the Under Job Not Saved file.

docflash on October 20, 2011 at 1:19 PM

The cover-up is worse than the crime, NPR. Nice try in an effort to make the stink on you go away, but it will never come out.

Christien on October 20, 2011 at 1:21 PM

So they fire this girl for being biased? And that’s supposed to, what, reassure us that their journalistic integrity remains unsullied?

Seriously, who do they think they’re kidding?

Kensington on October 20, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Ha Ha !!!

NeoKong on October 20, 2011 at 1:34 PM

“Soundprint” is a neat little show; I hope they can continue without her, but actions have consequences, and it was unwise of her to think she could ignore the ethics code without any (or to think it didn’t apply in her case).

calbear on October 20, 2011 at 1:35 PM

PMSNBC could learn from this fine example … but it won’t. ;o)

DannoJyd on October 20, 2011 at 1:38 PM

OT/ Oh s..t. Obama is going to give a Rose garden speech about Daffi at 2:00 PM. Another “I got Him,look at me “speech I presume. Of course he is going to have to find someway to blast Republicans.

sandee on October 20, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Perhaps NPR is just trying to protect it’s government funding? That last thing NPR wants to do is give conservatives another reason to put its funding on the chopping block with the super committee trying to find dollars to winnow from the budget.

suburbanite on October 20, 2011 at 1:42 PM

I was at a Tea Party event and an NPR radio person went around to everyone holding a sign to get an interview, hoping for the crazy. Me, a black man wearing a Tea Party tshirt INVISIBLE. An I purposely approached her…

Theworldisnotenough on October 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

That’s what happens when individuals are viewed merely as members of groups to be sorted as if they were eggs. Your being there did not compute because you weren’t in the box they had made for you. The idea that free thinking people are able and entitled to make up their own minds and direct the course of their lives regardless of superficial attributes is completely alien to them.

RadClown on October 20, 2011 at 1:44 PM

a news-oriented show where questions about bias would undermine its credibility.

Ed? Uh – “credibility” and “NPR” in the same sentence (without ironic intent)? It’s kind of depressing that, even if by oversight, you could imply that NPR is a news organization.

BTW, howz that GOP effort to defund NPR going? Oh, you say it’s gonna be the very next item after the GOP achieves a .01% reduction in the meteoric growth of federal spending? Well that’s a relief.

One really must have the experience of seeing real fear in an NPR host’s face during a live show, as he decides to not take any phone calls because he realizes his guest actually knows the subject and will disembowel the moronic NPR listener base when they call in to parade their ignorance. Hilarious and depressing at the same time. (Better than all the “dead air” awkward silences from NPR field correspondents as they search for a way to deflect an idiotic question from an All Things Considered anchor without humiliating them or drawing attention to the delusional assumptions in the question)

Don’t forget the unique and critical role played by NPR in cretinizing, and reassuring, “educated” people who are political morons.

IceCold on October 20, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Lisa Simeone Simian was fired Wednesday evening from one of the two public radio programs she hosts, the Associated Press reports.

Corrected for accuracy. Leftists are, after all, sub-human.

UltimateBob on October 20, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Occupy unemployment line

William Amos on October 20, 2011 at 1:55 PM

i find it hard to believe that there is a huge audience for a show called “The World of Opera”

There’s not, but you make a good case for listener-funded radio. It’s usually the best thing on the dial. A little respite from Kenny Chesney, Adele, Sean Hannity and George Noory.

YYZ on October 20, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Maybe she sucked at her job and this was an easy way for them to let her go?

heh

bridgetown on October 20, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Let NPR do that another 99 times, and THEN I’ll start paying attention…

Khun Joe on October 20, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Just because they toss a couple rats overboard doesn’t mean they aren’t breeding more.

Defund NPR-CPB
Why haven’t the Republicans done this yet?

DaMav on October 20, 2011 at 2:19 PM

where questions about bias would undermine its credibility

Seriously? Does anyone question the bias of National Proletariat Radio?

Alma on October 20, 2011 at 2:22 PM

I don’t listen to NPR as much now that they’re constantly crying about losing funding and begging for money. Besides, I have ripped out most of my hair listening to their one-sided blather.

VibrioCocci on October 20, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Now soros can pay her to be a full time blogger for “occupy.” She won’t miss a beat! Pretty stupid of her to think it doesn’t apply to her. Oh well, as said above, here comes msnbc to make an offer.

Bambi on October 20, 2011 at 2:37 PM

There’s not, but you make a good case for listener-funded radio.

I’m all for listener-funded radio. We have a fantastic 24-hour listener-supported classical station where I live and I give every year.

It’s taxpayer-funded radio (and other media) that I have a problem with.

Missy on October 20, 2011 at 3:08 PM

I don’t think that I’d call it “ETHICS” per se, as much as I would call it, “Getting catch with one’s pants around one’s knees.”

If she hadn’t been busted, nothing would have been said.

CynicalOptimist on October 20, 2011 at 3:10 PM

There is one certain outcome from this fracas: Simeone really is a free-lancer now.

Fabulous career move1 Her compensation from OWS will be … something.

ya2daup on October 20, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Fabulous career move1 Her compensation from OWS will be … something.

ya2daup on October 20, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Hey, those leftover coffee mugs with the “copy” of his birth certificate and pictures taken with the cardboard stand-in of the FLOTUS have to go to someone….

CynicalOptimist on October 20, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Is Ed Schultz next? Geraldo?

faraway on October 20, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Maaaaybe.
Last night Schultz announced starting this Monday, Oct 24, the Ed Show is moving to the 8pm slot, putting him up against O’Reilly.
It’s either a move of desperation on msnbc’s part, or a calculated “you’re ratings REALLY suck and we have to let you go” move.
Doesn’t bode well for The Last Turd, O’Donell, either.

mrt721 on October 20, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Attention! Given that it has been universally acknowledged (amongst the people who decide stuff like this) that the term ‘fired’ creates a climate of fear and is a dog whistle to violence, henceforth this offensive term shall be replaced with the more euphonious, “freed from corporate oppression.”

Fly, Ms. Simeone, be free!

perries on October 20, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Since when does National People’s Radio have ethics? They get paid in tax dollars to peddle the propaganda…….zero ethics in that.

Hening on October 20, 2011 at 3:40 PM

I used to listen to the News Hour regularly. But I walked away from NPR and PBS after Gwen Ifill chose to not recuse herself from moderating the debate between Biden and Palin. Along with her, neither did her employers seem overly concerned with that inconvenient concept, “conflict of interest.” That was the last straw for me.

bandarlog on October 20, 2011 at 3:47 PM

When you lie down with anarchists…

TeresainFortWorth on October 20, 2011 at 1:03 PM

…you wake up with sleaze.

Jaibones on October 20, 2011 at 3:47 PM

“Should journalists become activists as well as advocates?”

Only if they’re Democrats.

Good Lt on October 20, 2011 at 4:05 PM

OWS’s newest hero. Too bad OWS doesn’t pay so well.

KeepOhioRed on October 20, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Wow! NPR is one of the one percent.
Down twinkles every one, down twinkles!

BL@KBIRD on October 20, 2011 at 4:26 PM

After violating National Public Radio’s ethics code by acting as a spokeswoman for Occupy DC protesters

Hold it… NPR has an ethics code? When did that start?

malclave on October 20, 2011 at 4:27 PM

I can’t believe the folks here who think this broad should have known better. Where should she have been taught that lesson? She’s a leftist working for NPR for God’s sake. She had NO reason to think her extra-curricular activities would draw the ire of her comrades there.

I’m amazed they did this. I think she could sue for unequal treatment, and I think she could win.

runawayyyy on October 20, 2011 at 5:02 PM

What was the nature of this person’s program. If it was straight news then her firing is justified, but remember Hannity, Beck, and Cavuto all were involved in hosting different Tea Party rallies that first day, April 15 2009. They carried the rallies on their shows and were upront podium participants. None were fired or even reprimanded.Hannity and Beck could be identified as commentators but Cavuto was and is supposed to be objective business news.

xkaydet65 on October 20, 2011 at 5:03 PM

I’m amazed they did this. I think she could sue for unequal treatment, and I think she could win.

runawayyyy on October 20, 2011 at 5:02 PM

It shouldn’t be difficult to find evidence of more NPR journalists who have practiced activism in similar ways, with NPR’s knowledge, and not gotten fired.

Missy on October 20, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Should journalists become activists as well as advocates?

No. Journalists are supposed to be fair and objective.

SoulGlo on October 20, 2011 at 7:57 PM

Politics aside, and I agree with her firing–she went way over the line, Lisa Simeone is a very good music host.

Glenside on October 20, 2011 at 8:10 PM

NPR fired her because her presence undermined the message of OWS. What’s a host of a dead-white-guy elitist opera show doing out there? They only tolerate opera and classical music shows because the think donors like it, and donors think they’re supposed to like it. If NPR had a hip hop show (Maybe they do. Who listens?) and this woman hosted it she’d still have a job.

curved space on October 21, 2011 at 6:59 AM