David Zurawik

NPR looking into show host Lisa Simeone's role with Occupy Washington group

National Public radio says it is looking into the role that  Baltimore resident Lisa Simeone is playing as a spokeswoman for October 2011, one of the Occupy D.C. groups encamped at Freedom Plaza in Washington.

A profile on National Public Radio's "People at NPR" web page describes Simeone as host of the nationally syndicated "World of Opera" and "Spoleto Chamber Music 2010." She also hosts the documentary series "Soundprint," according to that production's website.

Simeone formerly worked at the NPR news programs "All Things Considered" and "Weekend Edition."

The issue of someone associated with NPR, which has long asserted its non-partisan approach to broadcasting, serving as a spokesperson for such an overtly partisan effort was raised this week at The Daily Caller, a conservative website.

"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.," Matthew Boyle wrote in a piece posted Wednesday afternoon.

Read it here.

Anna Christopher, a spokeswoman for NPR, stressed Simeone's status as a "freelancer" in an email response to the Sun Wednesday.

According to Christopher, "World of Opera" is produced by WDAV, a North Carolina public radio station, with NPR serving as the distributor of the program nationally.

"We're in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this," Christopher said in her email. "We of course take this issue very seriously."

"For some context and background on the program, World of Opera is produced by WDAV, a music and arts station based in Davidson, North Carolina," Christopher added. "The program is distributed by NPR. Lisa is not an employee of WDAV or NPR; she is a freelancer with the station."

Here's a sample of Simeone's writing as it appears on the October 2011 website:

It's long past time for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to end, for U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen to end, for our worldwide torture regime to end, for Guantanamo to be closed, for political, military, and corporate criminals to be held accountable. We're spending billions of dollars on destruction abroad and abrogation of rights at home -- the only growing sector of the economy is the abusive National Security State.

The politics of NPR have been much discussed during the last year since the broadcaster fired analyst Juan Williams for a statement he made on Fox News about his feelings toward some people he perceived as Muslims. At the time of the firing, NPR management stressed the need for people on its airwaves to be seen as impartial by listeners.

Simeone is a veteran of "more than 25 years in radio and TV," according to NPR. In Baltimore, she has worked for WBJC and the old WJHU (now WYPR-FM.)

"When she's not doing radio, Lisa writes for Style Magazine and the Urbanite, as well as book reviews and op-eds for The Baltimore Sun," the NPR website says.

Read the NPR profile of Simeone here.