Elon Musk gives NPR, BBC ‘Government Funded Media’ Twitter label

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Following days of criticism, Twitter quietly changed its label for NPR on Saturday. Now, instead of “US state-affiliated media,” the label reads “Government Funded Media.” 

Voice of America and the BBC were also given the label.

NPR stopped tweeting on Tuesday, the same day Twitter applied the “state-affiliated media” label, similar to the one for China’s heavily state-controlled media. NPR gets less than 1% of its annual budget, on average, from federal sources.

“NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable,” NPR CEO John Lansing stated. “It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy.”

The BBC takes issue with the “Government Funded Media” label and has contacted Twitter to request its removal, according to Deadline. “The BBC is, and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through the licence fee,” a spokesperson told Deadline.

NPR is a favorite target of conservatives who accuse it of liberal bias. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson on Thursday hailed Musk as a “hero” for giving NPR the “state-affiliated media” label. “That is the same category as Russia Today or China Central Television. It means that NPR is not that different from the Tehran Times, with the exception, of course, being less accurate and more anti-American,” Carlson said. 

Musk himself seemed less sure of the label. In an email exchange with NPR business reporter Bobby Allyn on Thursday, Allyn noted NPR was public media, not state-affiliated, and Musk replied, “Well, then we should fix it.” Musk asked Allyn for a breakdown of NPR funding, and he added, “The operating principle at new Twitter is simply fair and equal treatment, so if we label non-US accounts as govt, then we should do the same for US, but it sounds like that might not be accurate here.”

Twitter hit NPR with the “state-affiliated media” days after removing the blue verification checkmark for the New York Times, of which Musk has been a frequent critic. The check mark had previously been given to notable accounts for free but now requires a monthly fee, which the Times has indicated it won’t pay. Musk wrote of the Times earlier this month, “Their propaganda isn’t even interesting.”

Clicking on the “Government Funded Media” label leads to a page that currently does not explain what the label means. But Musk said Twitter is “applying it to a larger number of institutions,” according to Allyn.

Fortune reached out to Twitter and NPR for comments on Sunday but received no immediate replies. Twitter disbanded its media relations team in November and no longer replies to press inquiries. 

NPR has not resumed tweeting as of Sunday.



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