NPR Quits Twitter Amid Spat With Elon Musk Over ‘State’ Media Label

NPR Quits Twitter Amid Spat With Elon Musk Over ‘State’ Media Label
The Twitter logo is seen at their headquarters in downtown San Francisco, Calif., on April 26, 2022. (Amy Osborne/AFP via Getty Images)

National Public Radio (NPR) left Twitter after it was labeled by the social media firm as a “state-affiliated media,” according to the public broadcaster in an article published Wednesday.

However, as of Wednesday morning, NPR’s account was still online. The outlet—currently labeled as “government-funded Media”—posted several consecutive Twitter posts telling users that they can download the NPR app, sign up for its newsletter to “[walk] you through all the stories you need,” to sign up for specific email-based newsletters, and to access it on other social media platforms like Facebook or TikTok.

It’s not clear if NPR, which critics say has exhibited a strong left-wing bias over the years, will delete its account or will simply not post.

In an NPR article published around the same time, officials with the public broadcaster attempted to portray itself as the “first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform.” Officials also said that the reason for the decision to leave Twitter is because it labeled the broadcaster as “state-affiliated media,” similar to Chinese Communist Party mouthpieces like Xinhua or CCTV, or Russian-backed outlets like RT and Sputnik News.

“The downside, whatever the downside, doesn’t change that fact,” NPR CEO John Lansing said in the article. “I would never have our content go anywhere that would risk our credibility.”

Lansing said that even if Twitter dropped the “government-funded” label, it’s not clear if NPR would return in the near future. Lansing said that individual NPR staffers and reporters can leave Twitter or not, although it’s not clear if any had done so as of Wednesday morning.

“It would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here to continue to share it on a platform that is associating the federal charter for public media with an abandoning of editorial independence or standards,” he told staffers, according to NPR. “At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter,” he also asserted in an apparent criticism of owner Elon Musk. “I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again.” Lansing says individual NPR journalists and staffers can decide for themselves whether to continue using Twitter.

There has been debate over how much federal funding NPR actually receives. While NPR has claimed that only about 13 percent of taxpayer dollars go to the outlet, some have argued that the number may be far higher and is hidden in the form of grants; NPR has disputed such claims.

NTD Photo
The National Public Radio (NPR) new headquarters at 1111 North Capitol St, NE, Washington is seen on Sept. 17, 2013. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Decades ago, NPR was primarily funded by the U.S. government, although there was a move to change its financial structure starting in the 1980s. Influence Watch, a conservative-leaning group, says NPR gets some 1 percent of its yearly budget from the federal government, while about 10 percent of its budget comes “indirectly” from state, federal, and local governments.

Musk Comments

Musk told an NPR reporter earlier this week that the state-affiliated media label may not have been accurate after he was told that the organization has editorial independence from the federal government.

“The operating principle at new Twitter is simply fair and equal treatment, so if we label non-U.S. accounts as government, then we should do the same for U.S., but it sounds like that might not be accurate here,” Musk told the outlet.

Under the previous ownership, Twitter in 2020 labeled a number of accounts as state-affiliated, including Russian state media like RT and Sputnik News as well as Chinese Communist Party mouthpieces such as the New China News Agency and Xinhua. Reporters with those outlets also received those designations.

“When it comes to conversations with government and state-affiliated media accounts on Twitter, we’re helping to make the experience more transparent,” Twitter wrote in August 2020, adding that the platform doesn’t allow state-affiliated outlets to advertise. “We’ll now use two distinct profile labels for these types of accounts, so you can easily identify them and their Tweets.”

When asked for further comment via email on Tuesday, Twitter’s media email account responded with an automated message that included a single poop emoji.

From The Epoch Times

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