Public Radio Fires Host For Activism; Fox News Promotes Its Hosts' Activism

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The story this week of the public radio host who was fired from her job because of her Occupy Wall Street activism gives everyone a chance to compare and contrast how responsible news outlets deal with ethical guidelines, and how irresponsible ones, such as Fox News, remain completely oblivious to the codes. And also, how Fox News not only doesn't maintain ethical guidelines, but it seems to go out of its way to trample them.

Just look at the how Fox News anchors flattened journalistic common sense when they acted as de facto hosts, or at least cheerleaders, for wildly partisan Tea Party rallies. Not only did Roger Ailes' cable team turn itself into a marketing and promotion turnkey operation for the 'grassroots' Tea Party movement, but hosts ran to the front of the Tea Party parade and advocated for the Obama-hating movement.

Here's what Media Matters found:

In recent years, at least twenty Fox News personalities have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or causes, or against Democratic candidates or causes, in more than 300 instances and in all 50 states.

Sorry conservatives, you can't have it both ways. You can't cheer when Fox News "journalists" gleefully participate in nationwide anti-Obama rallies, and then turn around and cry foul when a freelance host of a weekly radio show volunteers her time to help out with Occupy Wall Street.

That was the story this week of Lisa Simeone, who hosts "World of Opera," and a radio documentary show called "Soundprint." Both shows air on public radio stations. When it was reported Simeone was working as a spokesperson for an Occupy Wall Street protest in Washington, D.C., conservative media outlets pounced, insisting she had violated NPR code of ethics, which forbids journalists from participating in political activities. Simeone was promptly fired from her "Soundprint" job, but not from "World of Opera."

But keep in mind Fox News' role with the Tea Party and ask this question: Why do traditional media outlets hold their newsroom employees accountable, but Fox News does not? Answer: Because Fox News is a propaganda machine.

Also, note the deep irony in conservatives rallying around public radio's ethics code. The irony is that so many conservative media outlets, including Fox News, operate without any discernible code of ethics, or even traditional journalism guidelines. In other words, public radio courted controversy this week because it actually holds itself and its employees accountable, whereas the right-wing press, so furious about Simeone's actions, doesn't even pretend to do the same.

Let's face it, if Fox News hosts were answerable to an ethical code the channel wouldn't have enough warm bodies to make it through a broadcast day.

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