The U.S. government-funded outlet National Public Radio (NPR) and others in the media apparatus have expressed outrage after Twitter accurately labeled NPR’s profile on the platform as “US state-affiliated media.”
NPR’s complaints about its description came the day after Twitter assigned the title amidst current layoffs by the outlet.
John Lansing, who serves as NPR’s president, expressed his fury on the matter, claiming to be “disturbed” by the new label.
“We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media,’ a description that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NPR. NPR and our member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide,” he wrote in an email.
He asserted that NPR vigorously supports freedom of speech and holding powerful people accountable, adding that a “vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy,” and that Twitter’s designation is “unacceptable.”
JUST IN – NPR statement on Twitter labeling it as US-affiliated media pic.twitter.com/wNPbzzGbM4
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) April 5, 2023
The same outlet that professes to “holding the powerful accountable” notably refused to report on the story of the infamous Hunter Biden laptop, justifying the lack of coverage by proclaiming, “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ time and reader’s time on stories that are just pure distractions.”
— NPR Public Editor (@NPRpubliceditor) October 22, 2020
Prominent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) staffer Christina Pushaw responded to Lansing’s remarks, quipping, “Ok NPR…. so if you aren’t ‘state-affiliated media’, you won’t mind if your government funding is cut off.”
Ok NPR…. so if you aren’t “state-affiliated media”, you won’t mind if your government funding is cut off. https://t.co/iAJtaRw577
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) April 5, 2023
Twitter’s help center provided a definition of the label, writing, “State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution. Accounts belonging to state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and/or their prominent staff may be labeled.”
Twitter CEO Elon Musk weighed on the definition, commenting, “Seems accurate.”
Seems accurate pic.twitter.com/nx5TmJY7GX
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2023
The Biden White House reacted to the news by insisting there remains no doubt NPR’s journalists are independent and lauding the outlet for its “hard-hitting independence nature.”
BREAKING: @WhiteHouse reacts to @elonmusk's company @Twitter labeling @NPR as "US state-affiliated media", says, "There is no doubt of the independence of NPR journalists," and praises their "hard hitting independence nature." Is that how you see NPR? pic.twitter.com/fgBHFw50Gf
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) April 5, 2023
Upon being asked to provide comment by both Fox News and NPR, Twitter reportedly replied with a poop emoji.