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“NPR’s organizational accounts 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,” an NPR spokesperson said in a statement.
“We are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public’s understanding of our editorial independence,” the statement added.
NPR expressed outrage and has not tweeted links to its reporting since last week when Twitter added a “state-affiliated media” tag to NPR’s profile, a label that put NPR in the company of foreign state-run media outlets such as Russia’s TASS and China Xinhua News. Although NPR was created thanks to an act by Congress, Twitter previously listed NPR as an exception in the United States due to its “editorial independence.”
Among those who rallied to the defense of NPR was the White House. President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, touted NPR’s “independence” and said its journalists “work diligently to hold public officials accountable and inform the American people.”
Critics of NPR, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, voiced support for the change.
Tucker hilariously SNAPS on Regime-funded NPR after Elon Musk literally exposes them to world as "State media" on Twitter 🔥
"NPR is not that much different to the Tehran Times, except, of course being less accurate and more anti-American." pic.twitter.com/UHg7PKjujs
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) April 7, 2023
When an NPR reporter pointed out to Musk that NPR receives about 1% of its annual operating budget from government financial support, the CEO conceded the new label might not be correct. “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,” Musk wrote in an email.
Twitter then changed NPR’s label to “Government-funded Media.” BBC also now has the same tag.
NPR’s main Twitter account with 8.8 million followers became active on Wednesday, but only to insist that it “produces consequential, independent journalism every day in service to the public,” and to share other platforms upon which it will continue to post.
John Lansing, the CEO of NPR, reportedly said individual NPR staffers would be allowed to continue tweeting but stressed that NPR would not immediately return to Twitter if it drops the label. “At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter,” Lansing said. “I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again.”