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Twitter to “reconsider” state-affiliated label on NPR account

The affirmation came from Elon Musk himself in a series of e-mails sent to an NPR reporter.

The affirmation came from Elon Musk himself in a series of e-mails sent to an NPR reporter.

(Photo courtesy NPR)

Twitter owner Elon Musk said he is reconsidering a label on the profile of NPR that wrongly says it is “state-affiliated media” after learning that the public radio organization receives about 1 percent of its funding from government grants.

The label was applied to NPR’s main profile on Twitter sometime within the past week. The label, which has been around for several years, has typically been reserved for news organizations like Voice of America, BBC News and RT that are majority funded by local governments or operate as extensions of a government agency.

According to a report published by NPR on Friday, the organization provided Musk with documents that proved 71 percent of its funding originated from a mix of corporate sponsorships that underwrite its programming and the member stations that pay to broadcast it.

Officials at NPR also denied its editorial operations are controlled or influence by the U.S. government.

After receiving more information about NPR’s operation, Musk purportedly told a reporter at the news outlet: “Well, then we should fix it,” which the outlet interpreted to mean the label would be amended or removed entirely. Despite this, the label remained on NPR’s main account as of Friday afternoon.

Interestingly, only NPR’s main profile is labeled as “state-affiliated media.” Ancillary accounts, including NPR Business, NPR Extra and NPR West, never got the label.

The decision to label NPR’s main account as “state-affiliated” almost certainly originated with Musk, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion in late October following months of hostility with Twitter’s top executives and board (which he immediately fired).

Since the acquisition, Musk has dismissed dozens of key engineers needed to maintain the integrity and overall operation of the website, re-tooled Twitter’s verification platform in confusing ways and pranked members of the news media by hiring actors to falsely present themselves as laid-off employees.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).