Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fuck You, NPR

NPR host’s involvement in Occupy D.C. leads to her firing

A public radio host was fired on Thursday after the conservative political site The Daily Caller exposed her role as a spokeswoman for Occupy 2011, the faction of Occupy Wall Street movement occupying Washington's Freedom Plaza.
Lisa Simeone, NPR

You know, NPR, you can throw as many sacrificial lambs onto their altar as you want, they are never going to like you. They are never going to stop attacking you or trying to de-fund you. Do you think that CNN getting in bed with the Tea Party has stopped the wingnuts from referring to them as the "Communist News Network?" (it hasn't)
You could remake yourself as FOX Jr. and it wouldn't matter, because their problem with you has nothing to do with what you actually are or what you actually say. As long as you exist, they can keep telling their brain-dead mob that their tax dollars are being used to promote left-wing propaganda or whatever, and their idiot followers will stay angry and frightened enough to keep buying their books or listening to their radio show or watch their bullshit network, because none of them will ever actually tune in to NPR to see for themselves whether this alleged bias actually exists.

Is this firing an attempt to make up for the Juan Williams firing? Because a) it won't, and b) this is not a similar situation. Juan Williams was allowed to work for the FOX propaganda mill  for years without being fired. It wasn't until he said something offensive about Muslims that he was let go. Lisa Simeone has not been accused of saying anything offensive about anyone. She has merely been accused of participating in the Occupy movement. Look at your own press release:

"We recently learned of World of Opera host Lisa Simeone's participation in an Occupy D.C. group," NPR communications SVP Dana Davis Rehm wrote in a memo to affiliates. "We're in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously."

What the hell is that? You're taking what issue seriously? If someone was to read this paragraph who had never heard of "Occupy D.C." they would think that it must be an organized crime family or some group of skinheads or something. Why would her participation in a peaceful demonstration be something needs to be "handled?" Why is that something that you "take very seriously?" It only makes sense if you begin with the assumption that everyone knows that the Occupy movement is engaged in illegal or immoral activities, and that any association with them would be cause for concern.
Your press release would make sense if Simeone had participated in, say a NAMBLA parade, or had been a spokesperson for the Army of God or something. Then it would make sense to call up WDAV and say "how do you want to handle this?"
Also, Lisa Simeone is not a journalist. She hosts the freaking World of Opera, for fuck's sake. So it's not like you can claim that her participation had compromised her objectivity. 

I don't know what's worse about this story, the actual firing or the way Yahoo! News chose to cover it.
 Because they chose to say shit like this:

The concern is not entirely sudden. Last year, the radio network former political correspondent Juan Williams [sic] for confessing on Fox News's "O'Reilly Factor" that he felt apprehensive when he would see Islamic passengers in airports. Williams' ouster eventually led to the resignation of NPR chief Vivian Schiller's, and a black eye for its image.

Oh, here comes the false equivalency express, right on time!

And earlier this year, conservative media prankster James O'Keefe captured an NPR fundraising executive on video making disparaging remarks about Republicans and the tea party movement to two conservative activists posing as Islamic donors. 
Okay, that's just a lie. O'Keefe edited the video to make it seem as if they were making disparaging remarks about Republicans and the Tea Party.  And James O'Keefe is not a "prankster." He is a deceptive, dishonest libelous smear merchant.

It's also true that Simeone's role at the network isn't simply limited to opera coverage. According to her bio on, Simeone has "developed a loyal following for her unusual mix of programming--classical, folk and jazz, along with provocative reports, interviews and call-in shows on everything from anthropology and neuroscience to philosophy to media criticism."

Oh, not just opera, also jazz and folk music? Oh, yeah she's got to go!

And, as Poynter's Julie Moos noted, this is not Simeone's first stint as an activist. In 1994, Simeone helped organize demonstrations outside a Baltimore courthouse to protest violence against women.

Oh my God! She came out against violence against women? What a controversial stand! Well, I can see why NPR would not want to be associated with such a radical firebrand! It is absolutely essential to maintain an air of impartiality when dealing with a contentious issue like "is violence against women bad?" 

Well, that's one opinion. Now with an opposing view. . .

Lisa Simeone has addressed her firing in an e-mail to the Baltimore Sun. You can read the whole thing here.
But here are a couple of excerpts:

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?
What is NPR afraid I'll do -- insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?

So, in summary, fuck you, NPR. I'm glad that I have never donated to you. I'll save my donation dollars for Pacifica Radio, who manage to get by without sucking up for corporate money.