Angry Anti-war NPR Host Acting As 'Occupy' PR Flack in DC

Matthew Boyle of the Daily Caller has a hot scoop about a National Public Radio employee aiding "Occupy" protests in the District of Columbia. "National Public Radio host Lisa Simeone appears to be breaking the taxpayer-subsidized network’s ethics rules by acting as a spokeswoman for Occupy D.C. group 'October 2011,' which is currently 'occupying” Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.'

Simeone hosts NPR’s nationally distributed “World of Opera” program and “SoundPrint,” a program that airs on DC NPR affiliate WAMU-FM. In a YouTube video uploaded in July, Simeone proclaimed "The time has come to stop these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and all the other places we're now bombing with our drones and other equipment, and to demand that money that's being spent and wasted on slaughter come home here to spent in the U.S. on human needs."

After listing how the "slaughter" money could be better spent on housing, health care and education, Simeone continued on her activist vibe:

If you join us on October 6, you'll be one of those people making it happen, and making our leaders listen to us. We're not leaving. We're not just going to go there and march around with signs. We're going, we're going to sit down on that nice, cold ground for however long we have to, however many days, however many weeks. We're going to stay and we are going to demand that our leaders listen to us. We're the people. We're the one who pay their salaries. We're the ones who put them in office. They are accountable to us.

Boyle underlined that Simeone has been cited in media reports as a spokeswoman for the "Occupy" crowd in DC. Aren't the NPR executives finding this uncomfortable news in their e-mail or Google Alerts? Boyle wrote:

NPR’s ethics policy for journalists forbids them from “engag[ing] in public relations work, paid or unpaid.”

The code allows for exceptions in cases such as “certain volunteer nonprofit, nonpartisan activities, such as participating in the work of a church, synagogue or other institution of worship, or a charitable organization, so long as this would not conflict with the interests of NPR in reporting on activities related to that institution or organization.”

Simeone has appeared in several news stories in recent weeks as a spokeswoman for the left-wing anti-capitalists protests. “Our main focus is that we are against corporatism and militarism,” the radio host said, adding that the protesters plan to “occupy” Freedom Plaza for a long time.

“I do know whenever it ends, we are not going to stop acts of civil disobedience, and various acts of civil resistance and organization,” Simeone said. “That will be done in the myriad of ways around the country, and again, this is not the end, but only the beginning.”

In an interview with the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Simeone tried to suggest there's no conflict: “Well, I work in radio still, but this is totally different....I’m a freelancer,” she said.

“A journalist is always attached to journalism,” WAMU News Director Jim Asendio told Roll Call. He said his station uses the same code of ethics as NPR. “Just substitute WAMU for NPR,” he said.

NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos tweeted to Boyle: "I'm looking into this now & will publish a column asap."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis