NPR said it will no longer distribute the opera show whose host has been participating in the ongoing Occupy D.C. movement.
Lisa Simeone came under fire this week after she admitted to serving as a spokeswoman for October 2011, an Occupy-related group currently staked out in D.C.’s Freedom Plaza. She was terminated as the host of one of her programs, the radio documentary show "Soundprint" which airs on NPR affiliate stations, but was kept on as the host of "World of Opera," a show distributed -- not produced -- by NPR.
The decision to keep Simeone as the host of "World of Opera" was made by North Carolina-based classical music station WDAV, which produces the show, and as a result NPR said it will no longer distribute it to its near-60 member stations around the country.
WDAV said it plans to distribute the nationally syndicated program on its own and is keeping Simeone on because her involvement in a political protest is not related to her job as a music program host.
NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm disagreed with that notion, and said the network is dumping the program because Simeone's dual role as host and Occupy participant is inappropriate, even though she's not technically an NPR employee.
"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 ethics code regarding political activities states: “NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them.”
WDAV has previously said its mission is different from NPR, and it seeks to provide arts and cultural programming, rather than news.
"We think it's really important to classical music that we continue to produce the show and make it available," station spokeswoman Lisa Gray told the AP. "That's our primary concern, that we continue to be able to provide this programming to listeners and stations across the country."
Simeone criticized NPR after news of her involvement with the protests first broke, saying she found it "puzzling" that NPR objected to her exercising her "rights as an American citizen."