NPR host fired after conservatives spot her at ‘Occupy DC’

By David Edwards
Thursday, October 20, 2011 11:22 EDT
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A broadcaster that hosts several programs that air on NPR was reportedly fired Wednesday for her participation in “October 2011/Stop the Machine” protests in Washington, D.C. after conservative websites suggested “apparent ethics violations.”

Lisa Simeone said Thursday that she was read NPR’s code of ethics as she was fired as the host of Soundprint.

She also works as a freelance host on NPR’s World of Opera.

“We recently learned of World of Opera host Lisa Simeone’s participation in an Occupy DC group,” NPR’s Anna Christopher wrote. “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 NPR or of WDAV; she is a freelancer with the station.”

The “October 2011″ antiwar protest and the “Occupy D.C.” protest have demonstrated side-by-side, but the two groups have made it clear that they are separate. Simeone was not involved in organizing the Occupy D.C. protests.

WDAV said in a statement that Simeone would not be fired.

“As host of World of Opera, Lisa Simeone is an independent contractor of WDAV Classical Public Radio. Ms. Simeone’s activities outside of this job are not in violation of any of WDAV’s employee codes and have had no effect on her job performance at WDAV. Ms. Simeone remains the host of World of Opera.”

In a video posted to YouTube in July, Simeone declared her intentions to participate in the “October 2011″ protest.

“I’m going to Washington, D.C. on October 6 because our moment has come,” she said. “Life, peace, justice. That’s what we want. That’s what we’re going to demand… We’re not leaving. We’re not just going to go there and march around with signs. We’re going, we’re going to sit down on that nice cold ground for however long we have to, how ever many days, however many weeks. We’re going to stay and we are going to demand that our leaders listen to us.”

Simeone’s alleged firing comes just one day after conservative websites The Daily Caller and Fox News suggested that she had broken NPR’s ethics rules by becoming an activist.

“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,” Simeone told WarIsACrime.org’s David Swanson, a noted peace activist. “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.”

“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?”

The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik predicted that Simeone would also find herself out of a job as the host of NPR’s World of Opera by the end of the day Thursday.

Watch this video from October2011.org, uploaded July 28, 2011.

Updated October 20, 2011 at 5:55 ET.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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