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Throwing that NPR weight around
October 20, 2011 11:10 AM   Subscribe

NPR doesn't like affiliate reporters participating in OWS. Lisa Simeone, host of World of Opera and Soundprints, which you may have heard on your local NPR station, had been speaking to the press at Occupy DC. NPR is calling her a "spokeswoman for Occupy DC" and is taking this very seriously. Simeone has been fired from Soundprints, with World of Opera still up in the air.
posted by rhizome (99 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
If only they took real issues so seriously:
In 2007 Garrels was criticised by FAIR for using confessions by prisoners who had been tortured during a story about an Iraqi Shiite militia (broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition). Garrels later defended her story on NPR's "Letters" program, saying: "Of course, I had doubts. But the details that were given seemed to me to gel with other things that I had heard from people who had not been tortured. But I was as uncomfortable as the listeners were with the conditions." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Garrels
posted by DU at 11:14 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someone on Twitter referred to NPR this morning as "the fainting goats of American political media." I rather like that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:15 AM on October 20, 2011 [78 favorites]


It seems that almost getting their affiliate stations defunded wasn't enough, they have to mess with the employees of those affiliate stations, too.
posted by koeselitz at 11:17 AM on October 20, 2011


Gee, I can't think of a single reason why they would be sensitive about this kind of thing.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on October 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


They wouldn't let any of their people go to the Jon Stewart Rally either.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:18 AM on October 20, 2011


In NPR's defense, they did just publish some very important information that puts our current economic and political woes in a revealing new context.

Also, after the Juan Williams controversy, what would you expect? They have to apply their own rules even-handedly.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:20 AM on October 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is she actually a reporter? Soundprints is the show that hosts audio documentaries from all over the world, right, and World of Opera is an opera show. It would be 100% uncool if an actual journalist spoke at a political rally, but I'm not sure I feel the same way about the host of apolitical cultural programming.
posted by craichead at 11:20 AM on October 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is about protecting their funding. They have to work harder to deflect criticism becuase of the right wing mantra about leftist NPR.

Frankly, I'd like to see NPR grow a pair and stick to their guns. The Right laughs at them as a bunch of hand wringing milksops, because they know they have them cowed.

Of course, if I ran NPR, we'd probably be shut down within three months.
posted by Xoebe at 11:21 AM on October 20, 2011 [24 favorites]


But this reporter isn't their employee – just like it wasn't their money that congress was threatening to take away a few months ago. NPR acts like it is public radio, but it is not public radio. It is a well-funded corporation that makes programs that are bought by actual public radio stations. And in this situation, as in situations past, they are overstepping their bounds by pretending to speak for all of our local public radio stations when they emphatically have no authority over them whatsoever.
posted by koeselitz at 11:22 AM on October 20, 2011 [24 favorites]


They're DC insiders, same as everyone else. He who pays the piper calls the tune, etc.
posted by carter at 11:23 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


article on antiwar.com
posted by telstar at 11:23 AM on October 20, 2011


Is she actually a reporter?

She is if she's being held to account for a reporter's rule in the NPR world.
posted by rhizome at 11:25 AM on October 20, 2011


They're trying for a reputation of objectivity. Journalists, as I understand it, are supposed to report the news, not be the news. So having your journalists covering a protest is one thing. Having them protest is something else.

But yeah, if they're going to fire someone for showing up on Fox News but not fire someone for taking much more over political action, that seems a bit problematic.
posted by valkyryn at 11:26 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have links to what she contributed while at OccupyDC?
posted by odinsdream at 11:29 AM on October 20, 2011


So apparently now buying even a single program from NPR means that you have to bow to their decisions as far as hiring and firing are concerned. Are we really suggesting that every single local radio station in the United States should now be brought under federal control? I hope not.

valkyryn: “But yeah, if they're going to fire someone for showing up on Fox News but not fire someone for taking much more over political action, that seems a bit problematic.”

The issue is that it is not NPR's business whom a local station chooses to hire or fire. They have no authority over those matters; nor should they. "NPR" and actual public radio are two separate things; the distinction is important.
posted by koeselitz at 11:29 AM on October 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


should now be brought under federal control

NPR is a private organization that happens to get public funds. It is not in any way controlled by the federal government. It may choose to do things for political reasons to protect its funding, but thats not the same thing (as they can decide these things independently).
posted by wildcrdj at 11:32 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


wildcrdj: “NPR is a private organization that happens to get public funds. It is not in any way controlled by the federal government. It may choose to do things for political reasons to protect its funding, but thats not the same thing (as they can decide these things independently).”

That doesn't give a solution here. NPR does not and should not control a single station; that's not their job. Local stations need to remain independent. So why do they suddenly have this gangsterish will to push firing decisions on local stations?
posted by koeselitz at 11:37 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is not in any way controlled by the federal government.

It's not just funding - it's information. They get invited to briefings, press conferences, etc. - they want to keep going to those, and schmooze with their important friends, and get invited to the right cocktail parties, etc.
posted by carter at 11:39 AM on October 20, 2011


Maybe PRI will pick up her programs?
posted by QIbHom at 11:42 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're trying for a reputation of objectivity. Journalists, as I understand it, are supposed to report the news, not be the news. So having your journalists covering a protest is one thing. Having them protest is something else.

Almost all of the primary reporting on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been done by reporters embedded with the US military, wholly reliant on military communications offices for permission and logistical support, travelling in US military vehicles, their lives literally dependent on the protection provided by US military personnel.

Someone please explain to this journalist how participating in an Occupy event in your personal time and on your own dime and not even under the auspices of your journalistic credentials is somehow a graver threat to vaunted, mythic objectivity than doing all your war reporting while embedded.
posted by gompa at 11:43 AM on October 20, 2011 [34 favorites]


Now you may understand why I cackle during the fund drives when the local hosts mention how far they are from meeting the challenge grant.

Don't ask me to consider how important NPR's "quality" news coverage is to me. You won't like the answer.
posted by Trurl at 11:44 AM on October 20, 2011


Almost all of the primary reporting on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been done by reporters embedded with the US military, wholly reliant on military communications offices for permission and logistical support, travelling in US military vehicles, their lives literally dependent on the protection provided by US military personnel.

yeeahhhh but that's inside the system so it's "ok".
posted by beefetish at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2011


We seem here not sure of what she does, who hires her, what she really did and why she got let go from a free lance job.
I say: occupy the men's room.
posted by Postroad at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is she actually a reporter?

Speaking as an arts and culture columnist: Yeah. Yeah she is.

She may not be a hard news journalist, but arts writing is reporting, and it is journalism.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:47 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're trying for a reputation of objectivity.

The point at which I stopped taking them seriously, was when Scott Simon delivered one of his little homilies, which equated Saddam Hussein with Hitler, as a way of providing support for the (as then uninitiated) Iraq War.
posted by carter at 11:47 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


She has to think quickly and insult Muslims then pick up a million dollar contract with Fox. Come to think of it: Omar Sharif, you're getting old, dude!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:49 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean – to take what I guess I think is a parallel case:

In my hometown, a tiny down in the Colorado mountains, the local "NPR" affiliate is pretty diverse. Sometimes they play the Grateful Dead or Led Zepp. I rather like the fact that they're not quite like a "traditional" "NPR" station.

However, does this now mean that "NPR" can say "not on our station!" and fire any DJ who plays stuff that's not on their playlists? Even though it's a public and local radio station, presumably under its own control?

Notice that "NPR" is vociferously denying that they had anything to do with the firing, claiming they didn't put any pressure at all on the local affiliate. That seems dubious to me, given the chain of events.

Trurl: “Now you may understand why I cackle during the fund drives when the local hosts mention how far they are from meeting the challenge grant. Don't ask me to consider how important NPR's 'quality' news coverage is to me. You won't like the answer.”

The main problem here is that "NPR" isn't actually public radio. If it were, they wouldn't charge any license fees at all. What they are is a semi-profitable corporation preying on thousands of nonprofit local radio stations across the country.
posted by koeselitz at 11:51 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


NPR does not and should not control a single station;

Well, they don't really here either. They do however have control over who broadcasts their content, which seems entirely reasonable to me. Whether their reaction here is warranted is debatable, but surely they don't _have_ to allow stations to broadcast their content? They had no direct ability to fire her, the local station did that.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:51 AM on October 20, 2011


wildcrdj: “Whether their reaction here is warranted is debatable, but surely they don't _have_ to allow stations to broadcast their content?”

That's a good question. One might note that it is in fact illegal for the government or anybody representing the government to copyright any works in the public interest. So a strong argument could be made that "NPR" can't decide who can and who can't broadcast their content. It is, after all, public property.
posted by koeselitz at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The most recent episode of "On The Media" featured a report on OWS, comparing it to the Tea Party. The host (Brooke Gladstone?) let the guest, some guy from Politico, prattle on about how the OWS campaign hardly gets much media scrutiny while the Tea Party got a lot of scrutiny. I nearly threw my iPod out the window.

NPR is as much a slave of Big Money as CNN. I will still listen, but my bullshit detector will be set for high.
posted by zardoz at 11:56 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tucker Carlson - why the fuck are we even taking people who wear bowties seriously? I mean... For god's sake, this is the year 2011.
posted by symbioid at 11:57 AM on October 20, 2011


I've heard recently that bowties are cool.
posted by dng at 11:58 AM on October 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


The Juan Williams firing was one year ago today, strangely enough.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:02 PM on October 20, 2011


Ben Stein did for bow ties what Freddy Krueger did for red and green striped sweaters. So, no. Not cool.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:03 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


They wouldn't let any of their people go to the Jon Stewart Rally either.

I went to the Jon Stewart rally. In hindsight this was probbly a wise decision by NPR.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:03 PM on October 20, 2011


Note here that the reporter points out how conservative reporters work for NPR yet appear on Fox, etc:

"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?"


I don't really care if this woman is a reporter or not. Why exactly shouldn't a reporter speak at a rally? Unless she's using her reportorial authority or revealing things that she is obligated to keep confidential, why does that matter? If anything, I'd rather know that a reporter is right- or left- wing - long experience as an activist has taught me that reporters lie by omission all the time (and by framing/selective quoting) and I'd much rather know which way they tend.
posted by Frowner at 12:04 PM on October 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


They who pay the piper call the tune. I think it will be good for NPR to get away from state funding and the inevitable distractions said funding causes.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:05 PM on October 20, 2011


(And also, why the fuck should it matter if she speaks at an Occupy when she's an opera reporter? It's hardly as though her awesome authority on Madame Butterfly is going to sway the crowd to riot.

It just goes to show you that a crime is an action by a marginalized person but the same thing by a powerful person is just SOP.
posted by Frowner at 12:07 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it will be good for NPR to get away from state funding and the inevitable distractions said funding causes

I think it would be good for NPR to stand up for the protections that state funding affords them, primarily with respect to prohibitions on state conduct.
posted by rhizome at 12:08 PM on October 20, 2011


We recently learned of World of Opera host Lisa Simeone’s participation in an Occupy DC group. World of Opera is produced by WDAV, a music and arts station based in Davidson, North Carolina. The program is distributed by NPR. Lisa is not an employee of WDAV or NPR; she is a freelancer with the station.

wait, what, doubletalk? how on EARTH can they attest that she is not their employee? NPR brings in the $$ from distro, WDAV produces the show. They. Pay. Her. whether or not she works freelance is arbitrary, she's still their employee.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:08 PM on October 20, 2011


why the fuck are we even taking people who wear bowties seriously?

I don't know, Paul Simon wasn't half bad as a Senator and I still get Cecilia stuck in my head when I'm in the shower.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:08 PM on October 20, 2011


That's a good question. One might note that it is in fact illegal for the government or anybody representing the government to copyright any works in the public interest. So a strong argument could be made that "NPR" can't decide who can and who can't broadcast their content. It is, after all, public property.

This is not even remotely true. About 2% of NPR's funding comes from the government. It's a business, and its media is just as copyrighted as that of any other business.
posted by odinsdream at 12:09 PM on October 20, 2011


It just goes to show you that a crime is an action by a marginalized person but the same thing by a powerful person is just SOP.

There are certain strains of political philosophy which hold that crime is defined as the activities of the losers in the class war.
posted by rhizome at 12:09 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


wait, what, doubletalk? how on EARTH can they attest that she is not their employee? NPR brings in the $$ from distro, WDAV produces the show. They. Pay. Her. whether or not she works freelance is arbitrary, she's still their employee.

Your local bookstore (NPR) buys books from a publisher (WDAV) which pays authors (Simeone). That doesn't make the authors employees of the bookstore.
posted by Jahaza at 12:10 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


odinsdream: “This is not even remotely true. About 2% of NPR's funding comes from the government. It's a business, and its media is just as copyrighted as that of any other business.”

Exactly. They are not in any stretch of the imagination "public." Which is why it infuriates me that they're exercising control over stations that are actually worthy of the name.
posted by koeselitz at 12:11 PM on October 20, 2011


Notice that "NPR" is vociferously denying that they had anything to do with the firing, claiming they didn't put any pressure at all on the local affiliate. That seems dubious to me, given the chain of events.

According to the NPR web site, she's been fired by Soundpring (not produced by NPR) and not fired by the Opera Show, which would seem a pretty clear indication that they're not calling the shots.
posted by Jahaza at 12:12 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your previous comment clearly stated you thought NPR's content was public domain because it was a work of the government. Were you kidding?
posted by odinsdream at 12:13 PM on October 20, 2011


The host (Brooke Gladstone?) let the guest, some guy from Politico, prattle on about how the OWS campaign hardly gets much media scrutiny while the Tea Party got a lot of scrutiny. I nearly threw my iPod out the window.

I don't understand the frustration at that comment. There's some indication it's true, at least when comparing both movements as they get off the ground. And I don't think I see the dots connecting the observation to OTM's corporate toolhood...
posted by weston at 12:14 PM on October 20, 2011


odinsdream: “Your previous comment clearly stated you thought NPR's content was public domain because it was a work of the government. Were you kidding?”

The issue here is that "NPR" has been two-faced about this for a long time. They call themselves "public" and happily take public money – both in the form of direct money and in the form of enormous license fees from public stations. But in fact they are a company that probably would succeed as a private enterprise, and indeed is run as one.

We ought to decide. I really wouldn't mind if they were actually a public media provider. I don't see it happening, but it would be ideal, not least because it would make it more clear whom they are supposed to be working for.
posted by koeselitz at 12:18 PM on October 20, 2011


Sorry for missing that your first comment was not meant seriously. You'll have to forgive me, because there are really people who sincerely believe that NPR is a branch of the government.
posted by odinsdream at 12:19 PM on October 20, 2011


That would probably be because they have deceptively inserted the word "public" into their name.
posted by koeselitz at 12:23 PM on October 20, 2011


(We can't blame people for assuming that a "public" organization which takes some government funding and which is ostensibly non-profit is actually a public organization.)
posted by koeselitz at 12:24 PM on October 20, 2011


So is it definitive that NPR had her fired? It sounds like almost everyone here is assuming that.

... if they're going to fire someone for showing up on Fox News ...

Are you talking about Juan Williams? I thought he was fired for making anti-Muslim remarks. He'd been with Fox for a long time.
posted by DarkForest at 12:32 PM on October 20, 2011


Are you talking about Juan Williams?

Probably talking about Moira Liasson. Like Williams, she's also a frequent Fox pundit and contributor. I really wish they could figure out some way to fire her.

Her horrible "political analysis" is one of the worst things on NPR.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:40 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


DarkForest: “So is it definitive that NPR had her fired? It sounds like almost everyone here is assuming that.”

No. What we do know is that "NPR" themselves stated in a letter before she was fired that "We're in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this." Also, we know that "NPR's" "ethics policy" were read to Lisa Simeone when she was fired – as though those standards had anything to do with her doing her job at WDAV. Those two things add up to undue influence, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 12:42 PM on October 20, 2011


She may not be a hard news journalist, but arts writing is reporting, and it is journalism.
She isn't really an "arts reporter," though. She hosts shows on arts and culture. So would the same rules apply to DJs? Jay Smooth has a long-running hip-hop program on a Pacifica station. If he were on NPR (not a lot of danger of that, I know), would he be fired for making political videos? And if not, how is hosting an opera program different from hosting a hip-hop program?

I don't know. I don't know what the rules are, but in my head NPR's cultural programming is pretty distinct from its news programming. I wouldn't think that All Things Considered was compromised if it turned out that the Word Jazz guy voted for Ron Paul.
posted by craichead at 12:45 PM on October 20, 2011


The issue here is that "NPR" has been two-faced about this for a long time. They call themselves "public" and happily take public money – both in the form of direct money and in the form of enormous license fees from public stations. But in fact they are a company that probably would succeed as a private enterprise, and indeed is run as one.

NPR yes, as an organization is mor akin to some sort of private company, association, or foundation. I don't think there is anyone denying that even in NPR. The local affiiates, however, are a completely different story largely dependent on the financial support of public funding and funds from the general public. However, if the affiliates ceased to exist, there would be little use for NPR any longer. Who would purchase the content that they produce?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:47 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I suppose it doesn't matter who Ken Nordine voted for. I wouldn't consider it a problem if he'd made a word jazzy ad for Ron Paul. I actually sort of want to see Ken Nordine's Ron Paul ad.
posted by craichead at 12:51 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who would purchase the content that they produce?

I'm sure it wouldn't be too too difficult to create a new distributor. I'm not sure how PRI fits in here, but it's possible there already is a distributor to which affiliates can abandon NPR.
posted by rhizome at 12:52 PM on October 20, 2011


The 10th Regiment of Foot: “However, if the affiliates ceased to exist, there would be little use for NPR any longer. Who would purchase the content that they produce?”

rhizome: “I'm sure it wouldn't be too too difficult to create a new distributor. I'm not sure how PRI fits in here, but it's possible there already is a distributor to which affiliates can abandon NPR.”

That's true, distributors are another factor. But, again, even if there were another distributor, if no affiliate stations existed, it probably wouldn't matter, would it?
posted by koeselitz at 12:55 PM on October 20, 2011


Maybe they could bypass the airwaves and go to directly to podcast? That's the only way I listen to NPR programming these days anyway.
posted by craichead at 12:56 PM on October 20, 2011


Maybe they could bypass the airwaves and go to directly to podcast?

You are probably seeing into the future after the GOP drops funding to the affiliates.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:02 PM on October 20, 2011


I just heard the new head of NPR, the guy from Sesame Street, talking about how one of the big goals he has is to depoliticize NPR and get it away from being seen as a liberal media organ. I can understand that (even though he doesn't officially take office until December) NPR wants to clear out this sort of blurring the lines.

Unfortunately, conservatives will always see NPR as liberal, because the charge is relative and assumes a normative view of reporting that's heavily biased toward conservative bias. In short, it's a fool's errand.

(That all said, I think NPR is justified, to the extent she's an NPR employee. It's a dumb move, but a legit one.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:20 PM on October 20, 2011


WDAV Says Lisa Simeone Will Remain World Of Opera's Host
posted by to sir with millipedes at 1:30 PM on October 20, 2011


valkyryn: But yeah, if they're going to fire someone for showing up on Fox News but not fire someone for taking much more over political action, that seems a bit problematic.

Your statement is factually deficient. From Wikipedia, entry "Juan Williams," on 10/20/2011:

"NPR terminated his contract on Wednesday, October 20, 2010, two days after he made remarks on The O'Reilly Factor. He had commented, 'Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.' According to NPR, the remarks were 'inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.' As to the reason for the termination of Williams' contract, NPR’s President and CEO Vivian Schiller offered the following comment: 'News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts...'"

After this paragraph, the text goes on to speculate that the firing was because Williams had made the comment on Fox News, but this is not the official firing reason, and seems controversial enough that the question is up for debate. So no, you can't just assert this out of thin air, you have to back up your statement -- you aren't talking to obviously like-minded folks here.

Ironically this Wikipedia quote explains why NPR chose to fire Simeone, if they consider attending OWS to be a "personal public position" on a controversial issue, although it still fails the evil test in my eyes: attending an event does not necessarily imply acceptance of the event's aims, being present is a couple of orders of magnitude less than issuing derogatory marks about self-identifying Muslims on national TV, and it's not like her job had anything to do with covering economics or politics. It sounds very much like they fired here because of public funding concerns, which is stupid and wrong.
posted by JHarris at 1:34 PM on October 20, 2011


While I agree with some parts of that sentiment, it might be worth lowering the tone a notch back toward civil. Especially since it's not as if your citing the Internet's quantum encyclopedia is miles and miles better than "thin air."
posted by cribcage at 1:37 PM on October 20, 2011


That's depressing, because Soundprint's offices were next to my dentist in my little town for years, and are still nearby, so I sort of think of Soundprint and Simeone as being in my imaginary social circle of the future.

Meanwhile, Mara Liasson's just fine beating that pro-war, pro-corp, Fox News drum.

PBS lost me and every future dollar of mine when they retreated from Armistead Maupin after Tales of the City was one of the most-watched, most-loved things they ever did, all because the big bad right wing crybabies caterwauled about liberal bias.

With NPR, I tend to listen to podcasts and donate directly to producers for programs I enjoy, and maybe that's just the way the old NPR dies out and comes back better...or not.

God, I hate what our fucking country has become since the advent of Saint Ron.
posted by sonascope at 1:37 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I disagree with pretending that reporters don't have opinions. I agree with firing people if their opinions compromise their reporting.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 1:43 PM on October 20, 2011


That would probably be because they have deceptively inserted the word "public" into their name.

In my state alone, there are over 500 corporations with the word Public in their name. Please, give me a break.
posted by odinsdream at 2:00 PM on October 20, 2011


I just heard the new head of NPR, the guy from Sesame Street, talking about how one of the big goals he has is to depoliticize NPR and get it away from being seen as a liberal media organ. I can understand that (even though he doesn't officially take office until December) NPR wants to clear out this sort of blurring the lines.

Well, best of luck with that. Those of us in the real world are quite aware that until a news organization parrots every release from the GOP word for word then jumps up and down saying how right and perfect it was, they will always be portrayed as "the enemy".
posted by Aquaman at 2:02 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone please explain to this journalist how participating in an Occupy event in your personal time and on your own dime and not even under the auspices of your journalistic credentials is somehow a graver threat to vaunted, mythic objectivity than doing all your war reporting while embedded.

Because NPR is rabidly committed to the view from nowhere and will ruin everything they do in pursuit of it.

(And also, why the fuck should it matter if she speaks at an Occupy when she's an opera reporter? It's hardly as though her awesome authority on Madame Butterfly is going to sway the crowd to riot.

Shows what you know! Wemple will set you straight.

He's got a more detailed writeup of the underlying incident and the numerous ways (shock) the Beast gets it wrong. I don't completely agree with all his conclusions.
posted by phearlez at 2:36 PM on October 20, 2011


Wemple will set you straight.

It seems pretty damning that all of the "corrections" have to do with establishing how little any of the players have to do with each other. NPR is not PBS is not WDAV is not Soundprint is not Simeone is not an employee. Never mind that the firing occurred as if from a single organism.
posted by rhizome at 2:52 PM on October 20, 2011


JHarris: “Ironically this Wikipedia quote explains why NPR chose to fire Simeone...”

But NPR didn't fire Simeone. They very pointedly did not. They called her station and basically convinced them to fire her.

odinsdream: “In my state alone, there are over 500 corporations with the word Public in their name. Please, give me a break.”

Yes, but "NPR" has always operated under the guise of being a state media corporation when they are anything but. I still insist that even a company of which 2% of the operating budget comes from the state ought to make public its product. Moreover – it should be noted that "NPR" takes a lot of money from nonprofits who in turn are funded directly by the state.

"NPR" is basically a government contractor. As such, it's more than a little sleazy that they're also getting direct funding from the government, even if it's a very small amount.
posted by koeselitz at 2:53 PM on October 20, 2011


But NPR didn't fire Simeone. They very pointedly did not. They called her station and basically convinced them to fire her.

Not according to them. In fact, according to them, they emphatically did not.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 2:59 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading the Wemple article it seems like you could blame whoever funds Soundprint i.e. " the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health." I don't doubt for a second that Rankin fired Simeone because she was afraid of losing funding. I wouldn't be surprised if someone (from Rankin's funding organizations) didn't communicate to her that association with OWS was the kiss of death one way or another.

this is how a conservative society becomes radicalized.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:00 PM on October 20, 2011


They have to work harder to deflect criticism becuase of the right wing mantra about leftist NPR.

Which is, of course, part of the reasons behind "the right wing mantra about leftist NPR" and the so-called "liberal media" in the first place.
posted by Gelatin at 3:43 PM on October 20, 2011


sir with millipedes: “Not according to them. In fact, according to them, they emphatically did not.”

Right. According to "NPR," they simply called WDAV and had "conversations" about "how they intend to handle this."
posted by koeselitz at 3:48 PM on October 20, 2011


It has been reported that NPR had a role in the decision made by the management of the public radio program Soundprint to end its relationship with Lisa Simeone as the program's host. This is not true. Soundprint is an independent public radio program that is not produced by NPR. NPR had no contact with the management of the program prior to their decision. We learned about it after the fact, through media reports.

Via the NPR blog
posted by to sir with millipedes at 4:03 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


NPR has become light entertainment at best, and boring at worst. Sad legacy for "the people's" channel. As ridiculously left (and sometimes just-plain-goofy) as Pacifica Radio is (I'm a moderate) I feel as if I often get better info from its affiliate KPFA than I do NPR.

BBC is one of my choices for info these days, along with the Christian Science Monitor, and several measured political blogs.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:09 PM on October 20, 2011


from the NPR blog, quoted by to sir with millipedes: “It has been reported that NPR had a role in the decision made by the management of the public radio program Soundprint to end its relationship with Lisa Simeone as the program's host. This is not true. Soundprint is an independent public radio program that is not produced by NPR. NPR had no contact with the management of the program prior to their decision. We learned about it after the fact, through media reports.”

This is true, and I was somewhat confused about what happened here. I guess SoundPrint is totally independent of WDAV – WDAV instead produces World Of Opera.

Still, it's troubling that "NPR" would take the time to have conversations with WDAV. I don't think that's their role at all. In their blog entry, they address this:

“Other than Lisa's role as host, Soundprint and WDAV's World of Opera are completely unrelated. As we indicated last night, we are in conversation with WDAV about this matter. We fully respect that the management of WDAV is solely responsible for the decision making around Lisa's participation in Occupy DC and her freelance role with WDAV's program.”

I still think it's problematic that (a) they'd call WDAV at all and (b) they'd think it appropriate to announce that they'd done so.
posted by koeselitz at 4:20 PM on October 20, 2011


Yeah, count me among those confused as to why NPR felt it needed to be "in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this."

Really? The host of World of Opera, for fuck's sake, speaks to the press at an Occupy event and NPR feels it needs to take this issue very seriously?

And honestly, NPR's attempt to distance itself from the Soundprint decision is disengenous at best. If NPR *had* heard of Lisa's involvement at Occupy prior to learning about it from the press, is there anyone here who thinks they wouldn't have been "in conversations" with the "independent public radio program" Soundprint as well? They'd have found a way to make their feelings known clearly and directly, rest assured. Good for World of Opera for apparently standing up to them. koeselitz is right; that NPR tried to pressure World of Opera on this is very inappropriate.
posted by mediareport at 4:43 PM on October 20, 2011


Oh gee, and here it is pledge season again. My goodness.

NPR: Not Particularly Relevant.
posted by spitbull at 5:26 PM on October 20, 2011


When isn't it pledge season?
posted by rhizome at 6:02 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fox, meanwhile, practically sponsored the Tea Party rallies.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:10 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Give me a fucking break!

NPR is a right-wing organization, pure and simple, and it's moving even farther right. (When is the last time you heard NPR talk about Global Warming, for example-- and they are notorious for saying thousands of people came to anti-war rallies before the Iraq invasion, when the actual numbers were in the hundreds of thousands and they knew it.)

They fired Bob Edwards from Morning Edition-- a show he co-founded-- just before the 25th anniversary because he was starting to make negative noises about George W. Bush in the run-up to the 2004 campaign, and that inspired a boycott campaign.

Their White House Correspondent, Maura Liasson, ALSO WORKS FOR FOX NEWS!

And constantly disses the Obama administration when she thinks she can get away with it.

I will never give them another dollar as long as I live.
posted by jamjam at 7:56 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I stopped supporting NPR after their ombudsman made this statement:
I recognize that it's frustrating for some listeners to have NPR not use the word torture to describe certain practices that seem barbaric. But the role of a news organization is not to choose sides in this or any debate. People have different definitions of torture and different feelings about what constitutes torture.
View from nowhere, indeed.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:15 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


"NPR is a right-wing organization, pure and simple"

Hrm. Perhaps you've never met any actual right-wing organizations?!

Nevermind the fact that they have emphatically denied any knowledge or involvement in this firing. At worst, you can consider them concerned about some blatant -- but generally effective -- misrepresentations and slanders from the far right blogs out there about this incident?

I don't know whether NPR had any serious involvement in this, but you seem willing to judge them guilty of wrongdoing, without any actual proof. So, how does that make you much different than the parroting rightwing bloggers in question and all their sheeple?

(Hell... maybe they should send you a metal for your assistance, since you're serving their purposes, regardless of your differing ideological beliefs.)
posted by markkraft at 9:36 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


(er... medal... but you get the general idea.)
posted by markkraft at 10:04 PM on October 20, 2011


seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
posted by Shit Parade at 10:37 PM on October 20, 2011


Not such a big deal. In all the smoke (if not flame), (r)evolutions have casualties and martyrs. Such people, afterwards, enjoy a long tail of invites, speeches, dinners, and parties. Kesey, Garcia, Slick, et.al.

What will the 'fainting goats' (lol) of NPR get? Hey: once NPR joined the conspiracy to kill off the threat of 10-watt FM stations - REAL public radio - they became irrelevant - except to the extent that they piss off the GOP. Not ahead, behind. They're just doing what they do best - stifle. Part of the problem, not part of the solution.
posted by Twang at 11:59 PM on October 20, 2011


I don't know whether NPR had any serious involvement in this, but you seem willing to judge them guilty of wrongdoing, without any actual proof. So, how does that make you much different than the parroting rightwing bloggers in question and all their sheeple?

Not a terribly close reader, are we, markkraft?

I made absolutely no reference to the facts or circumstances of Lisa Simeone's firing one way or the other, nor did I impute any role to NPR in that firing.

I wrote to counter what I consider to be the prevailing misimpression that NPR is in any sense liberal, or retains even the slightest predilection to speak truth to power (or anybody else for that matter)-- it is not and does not.
posted by jamjam at 12:48 AM on October 21, 2011


NPR has become light entertainment at best, and boring at worst. Sad legacy for "the people's" channel.

Their best output for years now has been their podcast output. Planet Money has its problems but there's no other accessible source out there for understanding the nature of the financial crisis and the financial instruments that were a part of it. And unlike its parent, Marketplace, it never subjects you to the ignorant ramblings of math-illiterate Megan McCardle.

Dinner Party Download is more entertaining than any of their other general programming. The only things they broadcast on NPR stations that are worth listening to, in my not so humble opinion, are also available for podcast listening: Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, This American Life.
posted by phearlez at 8:49 AM on October 21, 2011


phearlez: "And unlike its parent, Marketplace, it never subjects you to the ignorant ramblings of math-illiterate Megan McCardle."

Marketplace is from American Public Media.
posted by mkb at 1:15 PM on October 24, 2011


Hair splitting, I suppose, but it's hard for me not to consider Marketplace and Planet Money to be NPR "output" when they're the ones doing the distributing.
posted by phearlez at 2:48 PM on October 24, 2011


Nevermind the fact that they have emphatically denied any knowledge or involvement in this firing.

Oh come on. In the FPP above there's a link directly to this statement:
We're in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously.
This is troubling for a number of reasons. First of which, what the fuck is there to be "taking seriously"? It's amazingly disturbing for NPR to be concerned about which political group people choose to freely associate with.

Secondly, why did they initiate conversations with WDAV about "how they intend to handle this" at all, if they're supposed to have no role in this type of management?

The acceptable response would have been for NPR to do nothing with the "complaint" they received. Slightly less acceptable would have been a statement reinforcing their lack of involvement in the operation of individual stations, and a reminder that employees may freely associate and assemble as they wish without fear of reprisal.
posted by odinsdream at 5:33 PM on October 24, 2011


phearlez: "Hair splitting, I suppose, but it's hard for me not to consider Marketplace and Planet Money to be NPR "output" when they're the ones doing the distributing."

They're distributing a link to an RSS feed published by American Public Media. Here is the list of programs that are actually distributed by NPR.
posted by mkb at 7:59 AM on October 25, 2011


Please note the three letters that appear on the top left of the logo for the Planet Money podcast.

I get you, mkb, and I am quite familiar with the difference between APM and NPR. But you're minimizing the level of connection and cross-pollination here.
posted by phearlez at 10:23 AM on October 25, 2011


NPR dodges the peril of socialist opera: The sacking of Lisa Simeone shows public radio's lurch to the right
posted by homunculus at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


How Occupy Wall Street Cost Me My Job: Joining the Occupy Wall Street protests has its dangers. You could get pepper-sprayed or end up in handcuffs. Or, as Brooklyn-based journalist Caitlin Curran explains, your boss could see a photo of you holding up a sign at a protest and fire you the next day.
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on October 28, 2011


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