Another US media outlet quits Twitter
State-affiliated US broadcaster PBS has joined NPR in leaving Twitter, suspending activities on the social media platform after it began pointing out their reliance on government funding.
At issue is Twitter’s decision last week to identify government-funded news organizations as “state-affiliated media,” the same label previously given to government-backed outlets from such countries as Russia and China. In response to complaints from Western outlets, Twitter changed the disclaimers to “government-funded media” or, in the case of the UK’s BBC, “publicly funded media.”
“PBS stopped tweeting from our account when we learned of the change, and we have no plans to resume at this time,” a spokesman for the public broadcaster said on Wednesday. “We are continuing to monitor the ever-changing situation closely.”
Twitter owner Elon Musk has defended the new labeling as truthful, as well as arguing that it boosts transparency regarding media content on the platform. The outlets have claimed that the disclaimers are misleading because they are editorially independent and hard-hitting news organizations – an assertion challenged by their critics.
“PBS’s editorial independence is central to our work and will never change,” the broadcaster said on its now-dormant main Twitter account, which has 2.2 million followers. “We produce trustworthy content that features unbiased reporting.”
Musk responded to the latest departure on Wednesday night, saying, “Publicly funded PBS joins publicly funded NPR in leaving Twitter in a huff after being labeled ‘publicly funded.’” He tweeted earlier that NPR should be defunded, given its hypocrisy over government funding.
Mike Gonzalez, a former journalist who is now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation conservative public-policy group in Washington, has argued that while PBS and NPR don’t broadcast government propaganda, they represent the views of “the politically correct elite left.” PBS was mocked in recent years for promoting Covid-19 vaccines through its ‘Sesame Street’ children’s program.
Federal, state and local governments provide about 31% of revenue for the US public television system, according to the PBS Foundation. Public broadcasters and universities, some of which are government-funded, chip in a combined 12%.