UPDATED: NPR Drops Opera Show Over Freelance Host’s Protesting Proclivities

Latest Update: When WDAV insisted on keeping Lisa Simeone as a host of  “World of Opera,” NPR dropped “World of Opera” Friday from the list of shows it distributes nationally. WDAV says it will now distribute the show itself, and that Simeone isn’t going anywhere.

Update:The AP has confirmed that Lisa Simeone has indeed been fired from her hosting position for Soundprint. When reached by email earlier this morning, Simeone told Antiwar.com that she was headed into a conference call with NPR and affiliate station. More updates to follow

Update II : NPR is insisting today that although it has concerns with Simeone, and is in “conversations” with the affiliate that produces one of the shows she hosts — “World of Opera,” on WDAV — it did not pressure Soundprint to fire her yesterday, nor did it have any conversations with the Soundprint producers. NPR does say its  “ethics policy,” which was reportedly read to Simeone before she was fired from Soundprint, applies to all shows that NPR carries.

Update III: What “World of Opera” might sound like if Simeone isn’t fired.

Update IV : Simeone gets to keep the opera gig — for now!

The rightwing blogosphere, which in the face of the Occupy protests, has been feeling and acting more like a toddler who can’t get his way in the playground and has no idea of how to express it other than to run around crying, red-faced and hitting every moving thing with the sides of his balled-fists, has now gotten a woman fired from her job because she dared to get publicly involved with Occupy DC.

The Daily Caller, the brain child — emphasis on child — of Tucker Carlson, who has had the benefit of having an open point of view while pulling in big corporate salaries, like forever, who has never been in need of a handout or a free meal or a roof over his head, but likes to call Social Security and Medicare “welfare programs,” has been engaging in what amounts to pathetic undercover investigations  of Occupy DC since early October.

It’s latest is to decry that “National Public Radio host Lisa Simeone appears to be breaking the taxpayer-subsidized network’s ethics rules by acting as a spokeswoman for Occupy D.C. group ‘October 2011’ which is currently ‘occupying’ Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. and is rallying parallel and in concert with, with Occupy D.C. Simeone hosts NPR’s nationally syndicated ‘World of Opera‘ program and ‘SoundPrint,’ a program that airs on NPR’s WAMU affiliate at American University in Washington, D.C.”

Ooooh, call in the stasi. But wait, Simeone is a freelancer who isn’t even employed by NPR not to mention that  as host of an opera program is in no way involved in politics, news, current events or protests. Daily Caller may have forgotten to report that part, but once FOX News picked it up, NPR started getting Juan Williams flashbacks and supposedly pressured Simeone’s real employer to fire her. Just like that.

Note: Simeone has been working as an organizer with October 2011/Stop the Machine, which is a different organization that has been working parallel to, and at times in concert with, Occupy DC, and is also camping out at Freedom Plaza.

Here’s the hysterical email NPR sent out after Tucker and his bow-tied mob did their thing (hat tip to WarisaCrime.org):

From:NPR Communications
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 mediarelations@npr.org. We will keep you updated as needed. Thanks.


Well they handled it alright. According to David Swanson at War is a Crime, NPR got her Soundprint employers to can her shortly after the story broke (so far, her firing has yet to be confirmed publicly by Soundprint. I will update when there is further news):

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.”

One wonders why they just could have taken Simeone off the show until the protests were presumably over, if they had concerns about the woman’s ethics or her ability to keep her politics apart from her role on the show. This seems so arbitrary and weak, not to mention unconstitutional. If this report of her termination is true, than NPR is in essence sanctioning her personal speech on her personal time as a private citizen. Here’s Simeone in her own words, answering questions by The Baltimore Sun , presumably before her firing, Wednesday night:

“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?”

We hear you sister, but you are (were) employed by a little-known affiliate doing earnest work on a tiny scale, while the aforementioned are “of the body,” part of the elite Borg that rakes in the big corporate cash for NPR. You are expendable, apparently, just like the rest of the 99 percent.


7 thoughts on “UPDATED: NPR Drops Opera Show Over Freelance Host’s Protesting Proclivities”

  1. One of the "ancillary benefits" to being Tucker 'bowtie' Carlson would be, insuperability. Well and his being an insufferable little prick doesn't help so much either.

  2. If this report of her termination is true, than NPR is in essence sanctioning her personal speech on her personal time as a private citizen.

    Something which has been going on for years. Thousands of people have had their careers destroyed for politically incorrect blogs, forum posts, letters to the editor, etc. FYI, employers are now scouring the Internet as part of the hiring process, rejecting anyone with "unacceptable" or "controversial" political or moral views. Another reason to avoid Facebook, Twitter and the like, since anonymity there is impossible.

  3. You do not have freedom of speech in the USA. The closest you get is the weak protection against governmental action that the First Amendment purports to give you. Your *actual* speech is restrained by the perceived ire of your owners, who will cut away from you the means to sustain your home, your family, your health, and everything you care about in your life, the very second you do or say something that they vaguely suspect may cost them money. In the absence of unions, and workplace protections, you have allowed the corporate classes to make you into slaves.

    Why do you think that you do not have universal health care? That your nation has no real support for the unemployed, apart from joining your execrable mercenary army? That pensions for your elderly, sick, single parents, etc are under constant threat? The purpose of this is simple: to keep you in fear, and through fear, to keep you obedient.

  4. The NPR credential works in the other direction – protecting a favored employee in the pursuit of some desired position at an unrelated entity. To explain: several years ago, Bob Edwards – at the time an NPR anchor favored by his bosses – ran for vice-president of the broadcast talent union AFTRA. Rules of AFTRA provided at that time that a candidate for election must be physically present at the convention. Edwards was present when he was nominated, but he then left the premises (as many of us wished to do after a days-long series of sessions in a stuffy hall). He was not present for the election, but he was elected anyway. Since then Edwards lost his anchor slot, but he remains a national officer of AFTRA.

  5. I finally woke up to National Pentagon Radio's prejudiced, bigoted, military-establishment reporting when the Israelis were massacring Palestinians in Jenin. I knew what was actually happening there because people on the ground were desperately describing and showing it on their cell phones while Linda Gradstein was glibly 'reporting' the official doctrine from Jerusalem. After more than 2 decades of yearly donations I cut it off. My $$ goes to Democracy Now and Free Speech TV instead.

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