Musk Admits Move on NPR ‘Might Not Have Been Accurate’


NPR journalists looking into the site’s new “state-affiliated media” label on Twitter have managed to get more than a poop emoji auto-reply out of the company. In emails to NPR, Twitter CEO Elon Musk acknowledged that giving the media organization the same label seen on outlets like China’s state-controlled Xinhua might have been an error, though it was still in place on NPR’s main account as of this writing. NPR, which operates independently of the government, has protested the move and has not posted to the account since the change was made on Tuesday. Spokeswoman Isabel Lara says NPR has decided to stop tweeting until the “false disclaimer” is removed.


NPR reporter Bobby Allyn says that when he told Musk that government support only makes up around 1% of NPR’s finances, Musk told him, “Well, then we should fix it” and asked for a breakdown of its finances. In a later email, Musk said, “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.” Before the label was added, NPR was listed alongside the BBC as an example of an outlet with editorial independence that was exempt from the “state-affiliated media” label.


After the label was added, journalists at other organizations pushed back, Vanity Fair reports, with Derek Thompson from the Atlantic asking whether Tesla should be considered a “state-affiliated enterprise” after accepting government loans and subsidies. Musk appeared to still be pondering the NPR issue Thursday night. “Not a bad suggestion. Will consider,” he tweeted in response to a user who suggested Twitter follow YouTube’s approach to labeling public broadcast services from around the world. (Read more Twitter stories.)