NPR pressured the producer of an opera radio show host, Lisa Simeone, to fire her after she participated in anti war protests. Simeone has been taking part in and serving as an informal spokeswoman for anti-war protests in Washington, DC known as October 2011.
In an interview with journalist David Swanson, Simeone noted that she wasn’t even an NPR employee and that her show did not cover politics. She also noted that a wide variety of NPR’s other employees appear as commentators on conservative media or take speaking fees for their work:
Simeone told Zaid Jilani: “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 FoxTV, 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?”
Last month, NPR’s ombudsman explained that the station was choosing not to cover the protests on Wall Street because it didn’t view them to be sufficiently newsworthy. Now, it appears that the station is going out of its way to pressure independent stations to fire hosts who take part in similar protests.
Tell NPR you don't agree with their attempt to restrict Ms. Simeone's first amendment rights.