NPR plans to shut down its official Twitter accounts, saying a recent decision by the Elon Musk-owned platform to label it as "government-funded media" undermines its credibility.
NPR said that Twitter was “falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.”
“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,” NPR said in a statement Wednesday.
In a separate statement, NPR CEO John Lansing said, “Actions by Twitter or other social media companies to tarnish the independence of any public media institution are exceptionally harmful and set a dangerous precedent.”
Twitter and Musk did not immediately return requests for comment.
The decision to label NPR's account as "government-funded media" came after Musk and Twitter initially labeled NPR's account "U.S. state-affiliated media," a designation customarily used for media outlets with direct ties to government entities, like Russia Today, or RT, and China’s Xinhua.
Musk, who completed his acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion last fall, also recently applied the label to the BBC, though he said in a new interview with the broadcaster that he plans to amend the label on the BBC’s main account to say “publicly funded” media.
On its website, NPR describes itself as "an independent, non-profit media organization" and says less than 1% of its budget comes from grants from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other federal agencies and departments.
Yet it has long been a target for criticism among right-wing and conservative pundits, who have alleged the outlet and its affiliates' programming leans progressive.
Musk's labeling decisions for NPR and the BBC came shortly after he decided to take away The New York Times' blue check mark after the paper said it would not pay for one. Musk has criticized the way Twitter's previous ownership issued check marks as biased and said his new Twitter Blue option, which allows users to pay $8 a month for a check mark, would create more equitable treatment of the site's users.
In his new interview with the BBC — one of Musk's most extensive since taking over Twitter — he said he was hoping to make information on Twitter as accurate as possible but that mainstream media “is able to trash me on a regular basis.”
Musk went on to say “the pain level” of owning and running the platform “has been extremely high.”
“This hasn’t been some kind of party,” he added.
Nevertheless, he said, his regime has been going “reasonably well,” adding that usage of the site is up and “the site works.”
Later on Wednesday, Musk tweeted out a screenshot of an email purportedly sent by an NPR reporter seeking comment about the media organization's move.
Musk threaded a follow-up tweet: "Defund @NPR"