After National Public Radio canceled its Twitter account for having been labeled “state-affiliated media” and then “government-funded media,” Twitter CEO Elon Musk has joined the chorus of those saying NPR should no longer receive taxpayer funding.
“Defund @NPR,” Musk tweeted Wednesday, responding to an NPR statement saying it “is quitting Twitter.”
Musk’s call echoes that of former President Donald Trump and other like-minded conservatives.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., has outed her local NPR (North Country NPR) for backing Democrats and their campaigns.
“Taxpayer dollars should no longer fund New York Democrats’ political agenda,” Stefanik wrote in a November 2021 letter. “NCPR’s activity is illegal, and I’m taking action, so North Country residents’ hard-earned incomes are not advancing partisan initiatives.”
Pundit Joe Concha called for the defunding of NPR, saying it is “difficult to distinguish NPR from MSNBC.”
NPR said Wednesday it is boycotting Twitter, because Musk’s social media company pointed out it receives government funding.
Twitter labeled NPR’s main account last week as “state-affiliated media.” Twitter later changed the label to “government-funded media” and gave it to a few other organizations, such as the Public Broadcasting Service in the U.S. and the British Broadcasting Corporation in the U.K.
NPR said in a statement on Wednesday it “will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.”
PBS said Wednesday it has also stopped tweeting from its main account because of its new label and has no plans to resume.
Twitter earlier in April removed the verification check mark on the main account of The New York Times, singling out the newspaper and disparaging its reporting after it said it would not pay Twitter for verification of its institutional accounts.
Twitter used to tag journalists and other high-profile accounts with blue check marks to verify their identity and distinguish them from imposters, but Musk has derided the marks as an underserved status symbol and plans to take them away from anyone not buying a premium subscription.
NPR’s main account had not tweeted since April 4. It sent a series of tweets Wednesday listing other places to find its journalism.
NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara said its journalists, employees, and member stations can decide on their own if they want to keep using the platform. NPR journalists have not been given the “government-funded” label, at least not yet.
NPR receives U.S. government funding through grants from federal agencies and departments, along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The company has said it accounts for less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget.
In an interview Tuesday with a BBC technology reporter at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, Musk acknowledged the British organization “is not thrilled” about the label it received and asked the reporter for feedback.
“Our goal was simply to be as truthful and accurate as possible,” Musk said. “So I think we’re adjusting the label to be ‘publicly funded,’ which I think is perhaps not too objectionable. We’re trying to be accurate.”
The BBC said Wednesday it would welcome a move to change the label to “publicly funded” instead of government-funded.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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