From late 2000 to early 2002, Lisa Simeone was an NPR anchor for their weekend version of the newscast "All Things Considered." Now this radical was leading protests as she hosted a radio documentary series called "Soundprint" and an arts show, "The World of Opera."
Liberals have focused on the opera show so as to dismiss criticism from conservatives. Time magazine TV writer James Poniewozik joked, "Have you long worried that your station was undermining capitalism through its broadcasts of the Ring Cycle? Tired of having your children brainwashed by the socialistic messages of La Traviata?"
OK, so put the shoe on the other foot. Imagine an NPR opera host working the weekends for the Tea Party. Time magazine writers would require smelling salts.
They are focusing on the opera angle in order to dodge the much larger issue. In an era of trillion-dollar deficits, how much longer are we going to pretend that it is an essential function of government to prop up the wholly unnecessary NPR to spew on the air the same warmed-over '60s bilge the OWS rabble spews on the streets? It's time for Congress to cut the umbilical cord and stop bankrolling this rogue political operation.
The narrower question about Lisa Simeone was whether NPR was going to live up to its own ethics rules, which forbid attending protests, let alone organizing them and serving as public relations staff for them. The "Soundprint" series, which is not produced by NPR but is a current events show, fired Simeone. That decision was a no-brainer.
But the opera show, also not produced by NPR, but by an affiliate station in North Carolina, arrived at a different solution. NPR announced it would no longer distribute the program to the 60 stations that air it. Instead, the local station would. That's merely solving an appearance problem and nothing more.
It is inexcusable that NPR didn't fire Simeone long ago. It did nothing to stop Simeone before the story blew up in their faces. Simeone appeared in a YouTube video uploaded three months ago, declaring with an angry face that, "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."