A freelance broadcaster who hosted two shows that aired on NPR affiliates has been fired from one of those shows over her involvement in the Occupy DC protests.
The Associated Press reports that Lisa Simeone confirmed that she was fired as the host of Soundprint by company president Moira Rankin during a phone call in which she was read NPR’s code of ethics.
Rankin told the AP that in her mind you can’t be a leader of a protest movement and a journalist at the same time and that’s what Simeone was trying to do.
She also said that even though her company is an independent production company that they adopted NPR’s code of ethics because listeners can’t tell the difference between NPR produced programs and those supplied by independent producers.
Simeone was stunned by the firing and told the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik that:
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?
NPR says it wasn’t involved in the firing decision but given the embarrassment they suffered last year when they fired Juan Williams, new NPR president Gary Knell was probably breathing a sigh of relief.
Knell has stated that he wanted to “de-politicize” NPR and even though Simeone wasn’t an NPR employee any appearance that she was involved in a left-wing protest would only bring more unwanted attention to the network.
Simeone wants it both ways though. If it wasn’t for her NPR shows she probably wouldn’t have wound up as the Occupy DC spokeswoman. And now that she has lost one of her jobs she is complaining that her politics shouldn’t have factored into the decision since her show isn’t political.
She may not have expressed her political opinions previously but once she got involved with Occupy DC she crossed the line from journalism to advocacy and that is something NPR is trying to disassociate itself from as it tries to rebuild its image.