Elon Musk Gives NPR the Vapors Again

If you look up “thin-skinned” in the dictionary, the entry might well include “See: NPR.”

You might recall that last month, Twitter began designating media outlets like NPR that receive all or part of their funding from governments as “state-affiliated media.” PJ Media’s Ben Bartee pointed out how both Canada’s CBC and the UK’s BBC complained, and Twitter’s Elon Musk made slight adjustments to the designation.

But nobody reacted quite like NPR did. The sotto voce radio network “decided to pout, take its ball, and go home,” as I wrote when NPR first decided to sulk over Twitter’s decision.

At the time, NPR actually wrote an article about its decision to stomp its feet, fold its arms, and avoid Twitter — because we all know that nothing says “serious media outlet” like a network making itself the story. (Paging Jim Acosta.)

Now, Musk is musing about giving NPR’s @NPR Twitter handle away, since NPR is still pouting and not using it. You know — “Nice Twitter account you’re not using there. It’d be a shame if we gave it to somebody who will use it.”

As if on cue, NPR has written another article about itself and how it has the vapors over the possibility that someone who might actually use @NPR might get it instead.

“In a series of emails sent to this reporter, Musk said he would transfer the network’s main account on Twitter, under the @NPR handle, to another organization or person,” reports NPR’s Bobby Allyn. “The idea shocked even longtime observers of Musk’s spur-of-the-moment and erratic leadership style.”

Allyn even somberly noted that there might be a precedent for Musk doing what he wants to do. “Handing over established accounts to third parties poses a serious risk of impersonation and could imperil a company’s reputation, said social media experts,” he writes.

Allyn quoted the emails he received from Musk.

“So is NPR going to start posting on Twitter again, or should we reassign @NPR to another company?” Musk wrote in one email, while another one asserted, “Our policy is to recycle handles that are definitively dormant. Same policy applies to all accounts. No special treatment for NPR.”

Another email must have really hurt Allyn’s feelings.

“‘National Pumpkin Radio,’ Musk wrote, adding a fire emoji and a laughing emoji to describe the content of the fictional gourd-themed broadcaster. ‘NPR isn’t tagged as government-funded anymore, so what’s the beef?’”

A note at the end of the article clarifies that “Under NPR’s protocol for reporting on itself, no corporate official or news executive reviewed this story before it was posted publicly” (emphasis in the original).

Let that sink in. NPR has a “protocol for reporting on itself.” And while Musk may be trolling with a bit of meanness, NPR really made itself look silly from the jump by pouting like a three-year-old. But at least Musk is providing NPR with some really high-quality content.

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