My fellow public broadcaster Lisa Simeone will no longer host the public radio documentary show Soundprint because she was a leader of and spokesperson for the Occupy DC movement. The AP is reporting that she was fired; Soundprint itself implies that the decision was mutual (check the link above).
On one hand, I can see why. Listeners, readers, and viewers are right to question the word of journalists with ties to organizations and movements with clear agendas. In the case of Soundprint, Lisa’s role as host could have resulted in listeners calling into question the veracity and verisimilitude of the work of a lot of talented reporters who produce work for the show.
On the other, I can see why some public radio listeners might see this as unfair. Juan Williams, after all, was both an NPR staffer and a Fox commentator for years before he was fired. And he wasn’t the only one.
During this pledge period, I urge everyone NOT to take this out on their local member stations by withholding pledges. Your local public radio station didn’t make this decision. Your pledge dollars support essential local programming and a lot of great national reporting; Soundprint gets only a tiny portion of that — if the show’s even carried in your market.
If you feel strongly that this is wrong, and if Soundprint is carried on your local station, I suggest that you call in and make a pledge of $1. Tell the person on the other end of the line — or say in the comment box at the online pledge page — that you’ll give more once public radio as a whole gets its house in order. Which is to say once Mara Liasson no longer contributes to Fox, and once Cokie Roberts is more clearly treated as a commentator and not an éminence grise on NPR’s air, at the very least.