Freelance NPR Opera Host Fired for Involvement With "Occupy DC"

As a freelance radio host covering opera on NPR, Lisa Simeone didn't see any reason why she shouldn't get involved with the "Occupy DC" movement. She was a freelancer, not an NPR employee, and it seemed highly improbable that protesting corporate greed would interfere with her ability to objectively review an opera. So, Simeone's been acting as an Occupy DC spokesperson since early October.

But just last night, NPR released a statement saying that it had "recently learned of World of Opera host Lisa Simeone's participation in an Occupy DC group" and vowing to "take this issue very seriously." Why did NPR suddenly care about Simeone's "Occupy" involvement? It appears that right-wing media had something to do with it. The AtlanticWire:

Roll Call broke the story on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, right-leaning sites such as the Daily Caller and Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism had picked it up as an issue....Simeone told The Washington Post that she was fired over the phone on Wednesday after the NPR code of ethics was read to her.

That code of ethics states that "NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them." However, Simeone was a freelancer and maintains that she had a right to work with Occupy DC. As she told War Is a Crime:

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?

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at October 20, 2011, 5:51am

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