Twitter CEO Elon Musk Joins Chorus of ‘Defund NPR’ Amid Taxpayer Funding Flap

After National Public Radio (NPR) canceled its Twitter account for being labeled “government-funded media” and “state-affiliated media,” Twitter CEO Elon Musk joined the chorus of those saying NPR should no longer receive taxpayer funding.

“Defund @NPR,” tweeted Musk Wednesday, and responded to a statement from NPR saying it “is quitting Twitter.”

Musk’s call echoes those of former President Donald Trump and other similar-minded conservatives.

GOP Representative Elise Stafanik of New York outed her local North Country NPR for backing Democrats and their political campaigns.

“Taxpayer dollars should no longer fund New York Democrats’ political agenda,” wrote Stefanik in a letter dated November 2021. “NCPR’s activity is illegal, and I’m taking action, so North Country residents’ hard-earned incomes are not advancing partisan initiatives.”

Political pundit Joe Concha called for the defunding of NPR and said it is “difficult to distinguish NPR from MSNBC.”

Wednesday, NPR said it is boycotting Twitter because the social media company pointed out it receives government funding.

Twitter labeled NPR’s primary account last week as “state-affiliated media.” It later changed the label to “government-funded media” and gave it to a few other organizations, like the British Broadcasting Corporation in the U.K. and the Public Broadcasting Service in the U.S.

In a Wednesday statement, NPR said 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.”

PBS said it would also discontinue tweeting from its main account because of its new label and does not have plans to resume.

Twitter removed the verification check mark on The New York Times’ main account earlier in April.

Twitter used to take high-profile accounts and journalists with blue check marks to distinguish them from imposters and verify their identity; however, Musk has criticized the check marks.

NPR’s main account has yet to tweet since April 4. Wednesday, it sent tweets listing other places to find its journalism.

NPR spokesperson says its stations, employees, and journalists can decide to continue using the platform

Isabel Lara, the NPR spokesperson, said its employees, member stations, and journalists can decide on their own if they want to continue using the platform.

NPR receives funding from the U.S. government through grants from federal departments and agencies, along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The company has maintained its accounts for less than 1% of the annual operating budget of NPR.

In a Tuesday interview with a reporter from BBC Technology at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, Musk acknowledged that the British organization “is not thrilled” about what it was labeled and asked the reporter for feedback.

“Our goal was simply to be as truthful and accurate as possible,” said Musk. “So, I think we’re adjusting the label to be ‘publicly funded,’ which I think is perhaps not too objectionable. We’re trying to be accurate.”

The BBC said it would welcome a move to change the label from “government-funded” to “publicly funded.”