Musk’s arbitrary and punitive decisions

Elon Musk is dreck.

Is NPR “U.S. state-affiliated media”?

Twitter and its new owner, Elon Musk, seem to think so. Over NPR’s protests, Twitter placed that label on its account Tuesday night, implying that the Washington-based nonprofit news organization is somehow connected to, if not controlled by, the federal government.

NPR is frustratingly crappy and dumb, but it’s not an arm of the government.

The designation puts NPR, which has 8.8 million followers on the site, in the same category as propaganda outlets like the Russian-government-owned RT and the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper. Both are also “state-affiliated media,” according to Twitter.

Notably, however, Twitter has not slapped that label on several media organizations that are substantially funded by government. The Voice of America, the BBC and the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes, among others, continue on Twitter without being designated as “state-affiliated” — a phrase with strong connotations of compromised editorial independence.

Which of course is smirky sneery Musk’s point.

From its founding in 1970, NPR has asserted that it is editorially independent of any government agency or funding source (NPR also receives revenue from advertising and donations).

It asked Twitter to remove the “state” designation late Tuesday when it first appeared. In a statement Wednesday, president and chief executive John Lansing said: “We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media.’ … NPR and our Member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide. NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way.”

NPR doesn’t stand for holding the powerful accountable when it comes to men who say they are women. Nevertheless, Musk’s jeering is dishonest and an abuse of power.

Twitter hasn’t explained why it placed the label on NPR, but its action appears to be consistent with Musk’s often arbitrary and punitive decisions regarding news-media accounts since buying the company last year for $44 billion.

Arbitrary, punitive, and childish.

Asked for further comment via email on Tuesday, Twitter’s press shop responded with the same automated response to every news-media request: a poop emoji.

They’ll be throwing baby food at us next.

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