NPR Retaliates Against Opera Show

After discovering that the host of an opera program had joined pro-democracy protests in Washington, NPR decried the woman’s ethics and got her ousted from one job. But the opera show refused to buckle, so NPR dropped it from national distribution, as activist David Swanson reports.

By David Swanson

On Friday, NPR’s PR flack was haranguing me on the phone about how NPR had nothing to do with getting Lisa Simeone fired from hosting an independent radio program called Soundprint. This was despite NPR having gone public with its concerns that Simeone’s participation in “Occupy DC” events was “unethical.”

In firing Simeone, Soundprint had referenced NPR’s “ethics” rules, and NPR had made clear its intention to get Simeone removed from America’s airwaves. But I acknowledged that I had no evidence that NPR had directly contacted Soundprint.

Lisa Simeone

But World of Opera is a different story. I just read that NPR has dropped distribution of World of Opera, a program produced by WDAV which contracts with Simeone to host it. NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm said the network dropped the program after the station refused to fire Simeone.

“Our view is it’s a potential conflict of interest for any journalist or any individual who plays a public role on behalf of NPR to take an active part in a political movement or advocacy campaign,” Rehm told The Associated Press. “Doing so has the potential to compromise our reputation as an organization that strives to be impartial and unbiased.”

NPR’s original frantic email and blog post about Simeone taking part in pro-democracy protests in Washington had read:

“We’re in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously.”

In NPR’s view, the issue apparently is Simeone participating in a democratic society instead of backing a corporate agenda like big-shot NPR hosts who opinionate on Fox, in op-eds, and at big business speaking events for big bucks.

Mara Liasson can opinionate on Fox News while providing an objective god’s-eye view on NPR.  Scott Simon can publish opinion columns in corporate newspapers while reporting the facts. Cokie Roberts can take corporate speaking fees that could cover most people’s mortgages without being perceived as in any way tarnished.

But Lisa Simeone cannot introduce operas while having taken the unforgivable step of supporting a nonviolent movement on behalf of the lower 99 percent of us.

On Thursday morning, Simeone was told to be on a phone call with NPR and WDAV, but NPR canceled the call without telling her, as she waited by the phone.

NPR’s Anna Christopher Bross told me that NPR spoke with WDAV about how to handle Simeone, going through many possible scenarios. She said NPR has been completely transparent. But when I asked her what any of the scenarios were, she refused to say.

I asked if one of them was the only one anyone has discussed, namely firing Simeone, and she wouldn’t say.

But the announcement by WDAV was “Ms. Simeone remains the host of World of Opera.” The station’s decision was not to fire her. NPR also announced that “Classical public radio station WDAV says Lisa Simeone will continue to host World of Opera.”

So, unable to get Simeone fired, a decision which NPR would have surely blamed entirely on WDAV, our public radio thugs have taken the only approach left to them in order to make sure people who support the political efforts of the poor are kept out of public sight: NPR dropped World of Opera from NPR’s distribution.

After NPR’s decision, WDAV announced that it will be distributing World of Opera on its own. WDAV merits our strong support, Soundprint deserves its full share of condemnation and NPR has lowered itself to the bottom rung of our communications system. Despicable.

David Swanson is the author of War Is A Lie. [This article originally appeared at] 

20 comments for “NPR Retaliates Against Opera Show

  1. Skinnydog
    October 26, 2011 at 15:33

    NPR – Nice Polite Republicans

  2. Kevin T. Houston
    October 26, 2011 at 04:54

    NPR will not be getting a penny from me if or when they right this wrong AND I WILL TELL EVERYBODY WHO WILL LISTEN ABOUT THIS COWARDLY ACT

  3. October 26, 2011 at 01:52

    I stopped supporting NPR after they helped kill micro-transmitting by distributing CDs to Congress critters SIMULATING what a a micro broadcast bleeding over on a licensed station would purportedly sound like (because they could find NO REAL examples of that ever happening IRL).

  4. TheAZCowBoy
    October 25, 2011 at 14:10

    Poor NPR, scared shitless by the GOP rats, they even bring the vasaline when they ‘bend-over’ for the reichwing nuts.

    Tombstone, AZ.

  5. October 25, 2011 at 13:31

    NPR pundits disproportionately represent zionism and protectionist views toward Israel.

    I stopped financially supporting NPR when the 9/11 cover-up was apparent. This has been a great disappointment that those who purport to be about openness and disclosure are some of the most artful propagandists.

    In my opinion, these ‘journalists’ deserve to be brought before grand juries for their complicity in (suborning) treason. The remedies put forth in RICO (racketeering) statutes should be brought to bear against those who have fed us a line of bull for years.

  6. Carlton West
    October 24, 2011 at 12:07

    Does NPR have a death-wish? Why alienate the core support group which listens to classical music and responds to fund drives? Lisa Simeone is very popular with opera buffs and classical music aficionados. So stupid to throw her under the bus.

  7. John Puma
    October 24, 2011 at 04:50

    Now apparently Nazi Public Radio has some free time slots in which to present Mitch McConnell reading the latest columns from David Brooks.

  8. Kimberly Stone
    October 23, 2011 at 21:35

    With moves like this, the leadership forced upon NPR by GOP corporate hacks may now get there wish and kill it off entirely by loosing the support of long-time listeners…how sad.

  9. Jrh
    October 23, 2011 at 20:20

    Too bad the local NPR station; WABE is in the middle of their fall fund raising drive. I won’t be contributing…

    • David Richardson
      October 25, 2011 at 11:43

      I don’t think we should punish our local PBS affiliate for bad judgement on the part of the NPR management. Instead, I contributed to WDAV (host to World of Opera) for their courage to stand up to NPR! BTW – many NPR stations, such as WDAV, are almost exclusively music.

  10. October 23, 2011 at 18:35

    NPR is constantly under attack, as are all progressives. Look at our history, the Democrats have had to prove over and over again how militaristic they are.One of the editors for “The Economist” wrote a book calling us “The Right Nation” I can get the BBC on NPR. American’s are the most ill informed. The military holds the highest position in most people’s minds C-span book TV . Otherwise web sites like consortium news is good. There really is no left in this country

  11. Anne Green
    October 23, 2011 at 16:30

    NPR sucks. I have not listened in years. Listen to WBJC in Baltimore and forget the politics of the day.

  12. skeptic
    October 23, 2011 at 09:13

    Perhaps now is the time to do a full vetting of the Directors and decisionmakers at NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and begin to require some accountability and transparency.

  13. October 23, 2011 at 07:58

    Time to re-name NPR

    National Pro-Corporate Radio !

  14. racetoinfinity
    October 23, 2011 at 04:36

    Related (though not through #occupy): PBS dropped its two most progressive shows (and two of its best), “The Moyers Report” (or whatever Bill Moyer’s hour show was called at the time) and “NOW” a couple of years ago, and replaced them with more corporate friendly programs.

  15. ShunkW
    October 22, 2011 at 15:48

    Just more proof that there has been nothing “liberal” about NPR since the 70’s.

  16. charles sereno
    October 22, 2011 at 15:15

    This just scrapes another unctuous veneer off NPR’s reputation. Great job, “brownie!”

  17. BillB
    October 22, 2011 at 14:56

    Guess this shows what kind of feckless f*cks are now running NPR.

Comments are closed.