Occupy Wall Street: Should an NPR host be fired for protesting?

The host of a radio show aired by NPR affiliates loses her job. But should rules for news reporters apply to someone who talks mostly about opera?

NPR host Lisa Simeone
(Image credit: NPR/WDAV)

Freelance radio host Lisa Simeone was fired by her bosses at Soundprint, a documentary program addressing topics such as climate change and education that airs on NPR affiliates, because she helped organize an Occupy Wall Street-related protest in Washington. NPR's code of ethics prohibits its journalists from participating in rallies that involve issues it covers. Simeone — who still hosts a show called World of Opera — says applying the rule to her is like "McCarthyism," because she doesn't cover news. "What is NPR afraid I'll do," she asked, "insert a seditious comment in a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?" Did NPR overreact?

NPR went too far, as usual: NPR is clearly overreacting, says Joe Coscarelli at New York. This "appears to be part of a pattern for the network," which fired Juan Williams over allegedly Islamophobic comments on Fox News, and pushed out its own CEO after conservative documentarian James O'Keefe secretly videotaped an NPR fundraiser badmouthing the Tea Party. NPR is so afraid of being accused of liberal bias that it fires people first, and asks questions later.

"NPR-affiliated freelance radio host fired for protesting"

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Firing Simeone was the right thing to do: Soundprint is a news-oriented show aired on taxpayer-subsidized radio, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. So "NPR did the right thing" by complaining and getting Simeone pushed out the door, because her activism would raise "questions about bias" that "would undermine its credibility." It's probably OK to let Simeone keep hosting World of Opera, "which should have little to do with modern politics."

"NPR fires host that acted as Occupy D.C. spokesperson"

The Occupy movement is what made NPR jittery: For years, Simeone has been up front about her activism, say the editors of The Huffington Post's Eat the Press blog. She was arrested in March during an anti-war demonstration in front of the White House! NPR never objected, despite its "pathological aversion" to hearing its employees' political opinions, until Simeone got mixed up with the Occupy movement. Apparently, that was "a bridge too far."

"Lisa Simeone under fire from National Public Radio for part in D.C. protests, remains 'World of Opera' host"

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