NPR host doubling as ‘Occupy DC’ spox fired from syndicated radio program

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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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. (RELATED: NPR executives caught on tape bashing conservatives and Tea Party, touting liberals)

Simeone also hosts “World of Opera,” a show NPR distributes nationally. NPR affiliate WDAV in North Carolina produces that show.

It’s still unclear at this time what, if anything, NPR plans to do regarding the opera broadcast, but NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that the taxpayer-subsidized radio network is mulling over its options.

“We’re in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this,” Christopher said. “We of course take this issue very seriously.”

Christopher did not immediately return follow-up requests for comment on NPR’s plans for “World of Opera” following Simeone’s termination from “SoundPrint.”

NPR is forbidding staff from publicly speaking about the ethics violation, TheDC has learned. In an internal email memo, NPR senior vice president for marketing, communications and external relations Dana Davis Rehm told staff to refrain from talking about the issue.

“As a reminder, all public comment (including social media) on this matter is being managed by NPR Communications,” Rehm wrote to all NPR staff. She added that Simeone is “not an employee of WDAV or NPR,” but a freelancer.

Simeone has downplayed the ethics violations, saying the shows she hosts aren’t political. “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,” she told the Baltimore Sun.

“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’s ‘World of Opera.’ What is NPR afraid I’ll do — insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?”

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