NPR on slippery slope of McCarthysim censorship, workplace mobbing opposed by human rights media watchdog group
Following America’s National Public Radio (NPR) decision to cut distribution of an opera program due to political activities of the program’s host, who does not work for NPR, a major national human and civil rights group, FAIR, that defends journalists, has developed a campaign and issued an action alert on Wednesday, NPR vs Free Speech, to further expose the public radio station’s censorship and to protest its Cointelpro-type tactics that led to radio show host Lisa Simeone who was allegedly workplace mobbed by NPR out of her job, a required action according to a Baltimore Sun op-ed.
Twin Cities Daily Planet reporter Sheila Regan, of Behind the Story expressed in a report sentiments other reporters are, “When I read about the Lisa Simeone debacle this week, at first I was outraged, and then it made me nervous, and now I’m not sure what to think.”
The nation’s media watchdog group FAIR has expressed that it knows what to think and what actions it thinks need to be taken.
“On Friday, NPR decided it would no longer distribute an opera program because of the political activism of the program’s host — who does not work for NPR. Together we can send a message to NPR about this appalling decision,” FAIR states in its written statement Wednesday.
“Does NPR intend to monitor the political activities of the hosts of every arts and culture program heard on public radio? If the hosts of Car Talk took part in a Tea Party protest, would they be fired by NPR?
“This would seem to be less a hypersensitive sense of journalistic ethics than it is an exercise in McCarthyism.”
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), that has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986 has issue a public statement to NPR about what it terms an “appalling decision” and is asking for public participation by signing its statement:
“Your decision to cease distribution of the World of Opera program because of host Lisa Simeone’s political activism is an appalling act of McCarthyism. NPR’s claim that it is merely applying its Ethics Code doesn’t hold water given the political pronouncements of other NPR journalists.
“This action sends the message that NPR does not value freedom of speech. We urge you to reconsider this decision.”
“According to Reporters Without Borders, the U.S. ranks 53rd in the world in terms of worst violators of free press. The U.S. has a long history of counterintelligence agents using media to manipulate the public against its best interest according to Church Committee congressional investigative records that shocked Americans in 1976.” (“How to halt disinformation agent or ill-informed Beck for safety”)
In violation of the First Amendment-Right to a free press that concerns all 50 states and every US citizen, the government’s Operation Mockingbird appears to still be in use.
A controversy erupted over freelance radio host Lisa Simeone’s participation in the occupation movement in Washington, D.C. Simeone was promptly fired as host of the documentary program Soundprint that cited NPR ethics guidelines.
NPR then claimed it had nothing to do with that firing (See: Poynter.org, 10/20/11 http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=8raToLgeInQ0FN2B4Ldtpy54Wox1eOJk).
On Thursday, North Carolina station WDAV that produces World of Opera, announced it would keep Simeone as the host of the program. The very next day, however, NPR declared it would cease distributing World of Opera (AP, 10/21/11)
“Despite the fact that Simeone’s politics would seem to be entirely irrelevant to her role as an opera host, an NPR spokesperson explained the supposed ethical issues at stake saying, “We are not her employer, but she is a host for a show that we distribute…. She’s a public person who represents NPR and public radio.”
NPR spokesperson Dana Davis Rehm elaborated (AP, 10/21/11):
“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…. Doing so has the potential to compromise our reputation as an organization that strives to be impartial and unbiased.”
“This would be a strange principle to apply broadly,” says FAIR. “Does NPR intend to monitor the political activities of the hosts of every arts and culture program heard on public radio?”
“If the hosts of Car Talk took part in a Tea Party protest, would they be fired by NPR? This would seem to be less a hypersensitive sense of journalistic ethics than it is an exercise in McCarthyism.”
NPR‘s standards for news reporters do not appear all that clear, either. NPR news host Scott Simon took public positions supporting the Afghan War and the Iraq War (Current, 9/8/03 <http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=ZZZ3M4gieFfXRayfW7LM42N5Td4y9cmx> ). News reporter Mara Liasson denounced antiwar Democratic politicians on Fox News Channel (10/3/02): “These guys are a disgrace…. You don’t go to an adversary country, an enemy country, and badmouth the United States… these guys ought to, I don’t know, resign.”
What about the political opinions of news analyst Cokie Roberts? As Robert Naiman pointed out (Huffington Post, 5/22/07 <http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=a3qA/74GbHWOUv%2BTO0lDay54Wox1eOJk> ), Roberts co-authored a column declaring that “Democratic leaders cannot afford to listen to the labor movement as the country approaches a major debate over trade policy.” She also co-authored a column (12/10/10 <http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=DCQzwAgHokoTpa82RNplaWN5Td4y9cmx> ) attacking “liberals in fantasyland,” like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and Norman Solomon, for their “delusional” criticism of Barack Obama.
The Simeone controversy started with a Roll Call report on October 18 that claimed Simeone was acting as a spokesperson for the October 11 group according to FAIR. “Roll Call wondered if this violated NPR ethics guidelines, since Simeone acts as a host on two programs that air on some NPR affiliates.”
“The Roll Call story was picked up by other outlets like the conservative Daily Caller, and soon NPR sent an internal memo advising that they were ‘in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously. As a reminder, all public comment (including social media) on this matter is being managed by NPR Communications.'”
NPR’s Ethics Code, found at (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=T5o881cxgr6bcrkhtq%2B2h2N5Td4y9cmx, forbids journalists from participating “in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers,” and states that “NPR journalists may not engage in public relations work.”
The code “also applies to material provided to NPR by independent producers.” But there are exceptions, such as a “freelancer who primarily does arts coverage.”
The NPR code states, “There may be instances in which the type of programming may not demand the application of a particular principle in this code.”
NPR‘s new president Gary Knell has stated his desire to “calm the waters” and “depoliticize” the debate over public radio (FAIR Blog, 10/7/11) in response to Republican politicians’ desire to cut funding for public broadcasting.
“Incidents like this are fodder for right-wing complaints about the ‘liberal bias’ of NPR,” FAIR said Wednesday.
“NPR and Knell could have decided, clearly and publicly, that a music host can engage in political activism. Instead they decided to send a message intended to comfort their Republican critics,” stated FAIR. “Add your name to the petition.”
Mockingbird: US long sordid history of targeting reporters and manipulating public through the press
Deborah Davis’ 1979 book, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and her Washington Post Empire details how media has been recruited and infiltrated by the CIA for propaganda purposes.
“You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month,” according to a CIA operative discussing with Philip Graham, editor Washington Post, on the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories as reported by Davis.
Further Mockingbird evidence emerged in the 2007 memoir American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond, by convicted Watergate “plumber” E. Howard Hunt, and the 2008 book, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America by Hugh Wilford.
Congressional hearings led by Senator Frank Church in 1976 (Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities) proved that the CIA had been paying editors and reporters in most mainstream media outlets. A typical method was placing reports developed from intelligence provided by the CIA to witting or unwitting reporters. Those reports were then repeated or cited by the preceding reporters who would then be cited throughout the media wire services. The CIA also use their embedded reporters to discredit reporters with integrity.
(Watch Youtube embedded on this page, “CIA Funding and Manipulation of the U.S. News Media“)
Tactics by the government’s counter-intelligence program, the FBI’s COINTELPRO, included not only discrediting Targeted Individuals through psychological warfare an even planting false reports in the media, smearing through forged letters, harassment plus wrongful imprisonment, extralegal violence and assassination. Covert operations under COINTELPRO’s covert operations took place between 1956 and 1971 but the FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception. (See: Churchill, Ward, and Jim Vander Wall, (1990), “The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Domestic Dissent,” Boston: South End Press, pp. xii, 303)
“In 1977, the Copely News Service admitted that it worked closely with the intelligence services – in fact, 23 employees were full-time employees of the Agency,” reported Alex Constantine. Those networks have been run by people with well-known liberal but pro-American big business.
Constantine, in his book, Mockingbird: The Subversion Of The Free Press By The CIA, documents how in the 1950s, “some 3,000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts.”
Misinforming the world and manipulating public opinion through the press cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year in 1976 according to Senator Church.
Michael Rivero of What Really Happened states, “As terrible as it is to live in a nation where the press in known to be controlled by the government, at least one has the advantage of knowing the bias is present, and to adjust for it.”
“In the United States of America, we are taught from birth that our press is free from such government meddling. This is an insidious lie about the very nature of the news institution in this country.”
“Who Controls the Media?” asks Constantine. “Soulless corporations do, of course,” he answers in “The Depraved Spies and Moguls of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD” at What Really Happened.
“Corporations with grinning, double-breasted executives, interlocking directorates, labor squabbles and flying capital. Dow. General Electric. Coca-Cola. Disney. Newspapers should have mastheads that mirror the world: The Westinghouse Evening Scimitar, The Atlantic-Richfield Intelligentser . It is beginning to dawn on a growing number of armchair ombudsmen that the public print reports news from a parallel universe – one that has never heard of politically-motivated assassinations, CIA-Mafia banking thefts, mind control, death squads or even federal agencies with secret budgets fattened by cocaine sales – a place overrun by lone gunmen, where the CIA and Mafia are usually on their best behavior. In this idyllic land, the most serious infraction an official can commit — is a the employment of a domestic servant with (shudder) no residency status.
“This unlikely land of enchantment is the creation of MOCKINGBIRD.”
Constantine concludes, “Most consumers of the corporate media were – and are – unaware of the effect that the salting of public opinion has on their own beliefs. A network anchorman in time of national crisis is an instrument of psychological warfare in the MOCKINGBIRD media. He is a creature from the national security sector’s chamber of horrors.
“For this reason, consumers of the corporate press have reason to examine their basic beliefs about government and life in the parallel universe of these United States.”
Only 20.1% of NPR is financed by listeners. The rest of its funding is corporate and others according to its website Finance page.