Musk Has Only 2 Words in Response to Whiny Email He Got Sent from NPR Reporter Complaining About Twitter


NPR is currently having a moment regarding its status on Twitter.

Last week, the public radio network stopped tweeting from its main account because it was labeled “U.S. state-affiliated media.” The network said it was in discussions with Twitter owner Elon Musk to get the issue resolved.

Some kind of middle ground seemed to have been reached on Monday, when the label was switched to read “Government-funded media.” This seems to be significantly different from the “state-affiliated” label — which, the Harvard-based journalism nonprofit Nieman Lab notes, downranks content. Twitter applies the same tag to the British Broadcasting Corp., and Musk himself wrote in an email to the BBC that he considers the British public broadcaster to be one of the least biased sources on social media.

But no, detente has not been reached. On Wednesday, according to CNN Business, NPR announced 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.”

NPR reporter Bobby Allyn reached out to Musk for comment.

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“Our executives say the government-funded media label calls into question our editorial independence and undermines our credibility,” Allyn wrote in an email Musk posted to Twitter.

“Some wonder if this will cause a chain reaction among news orgs. What’s your reaction?”

Musk had two words: “Defund @NPR.”

Finally, a defund movement one can get behind.

In an article, NPR noted that even though the label had been revised, it was still taking its ball and going home.

“The news organization says that is inaccurate and misleading, given that NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence. It receives less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” read a Wednesday article by NPR.

Which, as Musk also noted on Twitter, is totally bogus, as well:

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Even by NPR’s own accounting, 13 percent of its revenue came directly from government money — 8 percent from “Federal appropriation via [the Corporation for Public Broadcasting” and 5 percent from “Federal, state and local governments.”

Another 10 percent of that money also comes from colleges and universities, not all of which are private.

“Federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public and its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR,” the programmer’s website states.

“Public radio stations receive annual grants directly from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) that make up an important part of a diverse revenue mix that includes listener support, corporate sponsorship and grants. Stations, in turn, draw on this mix of public and privately sourced revenue to pay NPR and other public radio producers for their programming.

“These station programming fees comprise a significant portion of NPR’s largest source of revenue. The loss of federal funding would undermine the stations’ ability to pay NPR for programming, thereby weakening the institution.”

This is the same point NPR used in 2011 when the House of Representatives voted to cut spending to the outlet after a series of political controversies: “Only about 2 percent of NPR’s budget comes from the federal government. But its member stations are heavily reliant on funding from federal and state governments,” Reuters reported at the time.

Should any media companies get government funding?

“The bill is a direct effort to weaken public radio that would ultimately choke local stations’ ability to serve their audiences,” a statement from NPR in response to the vote read. “Many small-budget stations would be placed in a serious financial bind.”

So, NPR is absolutely independent from government funding and receives a veritable pittance from the taxpayers. Except, of course, the government funding it claims is absolutely necessary to keep it alive whenever there’s a threat it might be taken away.

Which, again, Elon had fun with.

And this wouldn’t be a winning day for Elon without a Babylon Bee quote-tweet involved:

Musk has been clear from the start this is about transparency about what constitutes private, public, government-funded and/or state-affiliated media. While hitting NPR with the “state-affiliated media” tag might be a bit much — this is usually reserved for government-controlled organizations like China’s Xinhua or Russia’s RT — NPR is still a government-funded outlet with its editorial positions on any given issue effectively mirroring the Democratic Party as consistently as Hollywood liberals or late-night comedians.

No honest listener can dispute that.

Yet in its claims of editorial purity, NPR openly admits it needs state funding to conduct its operations. Now, it claims it has no intention of participating in the most news-heavy social media network if that network discloses that NPR is a government-funded outlet.

Whatever, NPR. Don’t let the door hit you in the tote bag.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture