Sunday, October 23, 2011
After last year’s fracas, when NPR summarily fired political correspondent Juan Williams for admitting on Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor” that he felt apprehensive when he sees Islamic passengers at airports, an action that led to the resignation of NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller and a black eye on its already tarnished image, NPR is at it again, wielding yet another pink slip.
Please meet Lisa Simeone. Simeone hosted the nationally syndicated “World of Opera” show and, the former weekend host of “All Things Considered.” She is also a freelance writer and host at WDAV, NPR’s Davidson, N.C., affiliate, where “World of Opera” originates.
But Ms. Simeone made a fatal career error. She dared to participate in the Occupy D.C. protest and NPR was none-too-pleased. NPR communications SVP Dana Davis Rehm wrote in a pissy memo to affiliates:
“We recently learned of World of Opera host Lisa Simeone’s participation in an Occupy D.C. group. We’re in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously.”
On Wednesday, Simeone wrote in an email to the Baltimore Sun that she didn’t understand what all up in her business about:
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?
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 Fox TV, 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?
I’ve come to the conclusion that NPR has lost its mind. Not another penny allocated from the U.S. Congress of American tax dollars for NPR hooliganism. From now on, they can rely solely on the generosity of their rich uncle, Archer Daniels Midland.