Good Elon, Bad Elon: Round And Round And Round Twitter Goes And Where It Stops, Nobody Knows…

I’m still hoping for the best with Elon Musk’s brave though chaotic attempt to rescue Twitter from the agents of progressive and Democrat propaganda….but I’m not going to spend a lot of time ramping up Ethics Alarms new presence on the platform until I am confident that I won’t have to quit in disgust again.

This week so far there have been two Twitter-related events that I view as ethically encouraging:

1. Musk tweaked National Public Radio as it so richly deserves by labeling it “state-affiliated media” on the platform. Trying to be nice, Musk changed the label to “government-funded media,” causing NPR promptly to throw a fit and quit Twitter, announcing that it would “no longer post fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform.” (Well, except for the New York Post when Twitter silenced it to keep the Hunter Biden laptop story from hurting Joe Biden at the polls.)

Amusingly, NPR puffed itself up with hot air, huffing that the network is protecting its credibility and its ability to produce journalism without “a shadow of negativity.” “The downside, whatever the downside, doesn’t change that fact,” NPR CEO John Lansing said, “I would never have our content go anywhere that would risk our credibility.”

I guess he means “other than NPR,” whose partisan toadying is legendary.

Lansing continued the hilarity by writing, “It would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here to continue to share it on a platform that is associating the federal charter for public media with an abandoning of editorial independence or standards.” Standards? Hmmm...I can’t recall the last NPR ethics story EA has posted; let’s see…HA! Just a week ago: NPR Wonders If Transgender Athletes Have A Physical Advantage Over Female Competitors. Before that: NPR Says There Are “Pros And Cons” Of A Candidate For Governor Calling Someone “Motherfucker” During A Speech…

Care to guess the party affiliation of the candidate NPR was defending? Tough one! Why, it was Beto O’Roarke, the Democratic candidate to unseat GOP Texas Governor Abbott. NPR described O’Rourke’s gutter language as a “snappy interjection,” though the snappy interjection was somehow not fit to print. The NPR headline used “f-bomb” while the text employed “motherf*****”. We pay taxes for this garbage “analysis”?

The indignant NPR excuse for objecting to “government funded” is also self-indicting. NPR’s own news story says,

The news organization says that is inaccurate and misleading, given that NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence. It receives less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The money laundering ploy! If NPR gets funding from a wholly federally funded entity, it is “government funded.” The talking point also intentionally obscures the facts. “Less than 1%” sounds like a pittance, but 1% of $300,000,000 is still three million bucks. That kind of financial dependence is sufficient to create a conflict of interest and bias antithetical to “independent” reporting.

2. Musk also won my admiration for this exchange with a BBC interviewer who said that there had been an increase in “hateful” content on Twitter since Musk took over (I wouldn’t watch the extraneous cheerleading after the exchange if I were you; this was the shortest version I could post from YouTube). The interviewer’s descent into “huminahumina” babble is delightful:



33 thoughts on “Good Elon, Bad Elon: Round And Round And Round Twitter Goes And Where It Stops, Nobody Knows…

  1. I bet the BBC guy was ready to hurl a “Seriously?” Mr. Tesla.

    (As a side point, when is Musk going to admit his companies are entirely government funded?)

  2. On NPR, I bet they will be back on Twitter in a couple of weeks. I recall ABC left Twitter for 5 minutes, that was funny. Twitter is like cocaine for journalists. They can wail and gnash their teeth for a short while, but they just can’t quit it, especially cold turkey.
    The BBC journalist, what a boob. Here is a summary: Twitter got worse Elon. Oh, how so? Well, it’s all the hate. Citation needed? Well, it’s bad. How do you know? I stopped using it, it’s bad. When you used it though, what was bad? Uh, shut up, let’s move on, this isn’t going anywhere (that makes me look good). Modern journalism in a nutshell.

    • You are probably right. I can’t remember whether it was Steve or Bill or, perhaps, another commentator here who pointed out that celebrities abandoning Twitter for other new social media sites would be back because they wouldn’t be able to handle sacrificing 800, 000 followers for 80.

      I suspected that would be correct at the time and it certainly held true for one. A well-known genre actor who doesn’t do a lot on social media nevertheless posted on Twitter that he saw where this was going and was taking a break until things calmed down and included a link to a new social media site he was going to try out.

      Guy has less than 100 followers on the new site where he’s only made two posts. After about four months, a post appeared on his Twitter feed promoting an event he was appearing at. Nothing about the event was posted on the new site. I laughed.

      Those who want to reach hundreds of thousands inevitably return.

  3. 1) I’ve been asking for years why, if public funding is only a tiny fraction of the funding that NPR and PBS receive (the argument they always make to support the laughable assertion the they’re independent, unbiased journalism), then why do they fight so hard against ending those supposedly miniscule subsidies? Surely NPR can make up a 1% decrease in their budget. They just laid off 84 people because of a 10% drop in revenue. Drop the government funding, lay off 8 more people, and go forward with at least a slightly plausible claim to independence. I’ll bet there are at least a half-dozen NPR shows that they could cut without anyone missing them.

    2) Musk is finally starting to show more media savvy. He insisted that this interview be livestreamed so that he could bypass the inevitable unfavorable editing that the BBC hoped to employ. Had he not insisted on his own full record of the interview being released, we would have never seen this exchange.

    No one should ever grant in interview to a media source without a similar provision. They simply can’t be trusted anymore.

  4. You don’t think NPR being labeled as “government funded” when they only receive 1% of their budget from the government a tad bit misleading?

    • It’s government funded. No other news source is except Voice of America, and that’s a propaganda organ. I agree that it can be misinterpreted as “entirely government funded” but everyone knows it isn’t, thanks to all those telethons. So would you recommend “partially government funded”? I would support that—but from an ethical standpoint, it shouldn’t be government funded at all. So “government funded” tells me everything I need to know.

      • Partially government funded works best with me.
        Don’t private universities like Harvard and Yale get government money for all the research they do? So they are government funded as well.

      • It’s also 99% not government funded, so why isn’t that mentioned?

        Is it because that 1% somehow makes NPR untrustworthy or a government apparatus?

        And no, not everyone knows NPR isn’t “fully”government funded. What about kids who first get on Twitter and see that? Or idiots? Or people who just don’t know.

        It’s misleading and this is how misinformation gets spread.

        • Would you be satisfied with, “ridiculously, fatally, pathetically and predictably biased in favor of the left and the Democrat party and virulently opposed to conservatives and the Republican party to the point of being a parody of a news outlet?”

        • Can’t base public discourse on idiots, Amy. If people won’t do their due diligence as citizens, its 100% on them if they are misled or confused. Of course, it’s also unethical to depend on their ignorance and stupidty for political gain.

          “It’s also 99% not government funded, so why isn’t that mentioned?” What? If it’s less than 1% government funded, the its 99% non-government funded: that’s implicit. It’s also a deceptive rationalization: if someone is a murderer less than 1% on his time, I don’t think the fact that he isn’t a murderer 99% of the time is anything to brag about.

          • You don’t find there’s a tangible and important difference between something consisting of 1% vs 99%?

            You don’t find that misleading at all?

            Like if you went to buy what you thought was crab meat and it says right on the package “crab meat” and then you later find out there’s only 1% of crab meat in there…

            You don’t think there’s a problem with that?

            Is it your job as the consumer to investigate and verify how much crab meat is actually in the package?

            • Terrible analogy, unless you look at it from the perspective of someone desperately allergic to crab. Government support of any substantive kind alters the nature of an enterprise, as I already said. It makes the recipient government dependent. Just as you can’t be a little bit pregnant, any government dependence is anathema to the principle of independent, objective journalism

              • The analogy is perfect but anyway…

                Okay so you think NPR receiving 1% of their funding from the government makes them dependent on the government.

                Is that all?

                It’s not important to mention where the other 99% of ther funding comes from? Only the 1% from the government?

                • Amy,

                  No one here (as far as I can see) has said that NPR is dependent on the government. You’re twisting what has been said, which is just the opposite. NPR doesn’t need help from the government.

                  It’s not a perfect example, but: If a lawyer representing you in a lawsuit against Exxon received 1% of his/her income from Exxon, would you see that as a potential problem?…a potential conflict of interest?

                    • Indeed. If an organization accepts large sums of money from any source, it has established dependence on that source. I did not say “total dependence.” In bias and trust terms, any dependence is problematical.

                • Amy,

                  No one here (as far as I can see) has said that NPR is dependent on the government. You’re twisting what has been said, which is just the opposite. NPR doesn’t need help from the government.

                  It’s not a perfect example, but: If a lawyer representing you in a lawsuit against Exxon received 1% of his/her income from Exxon, would you see that as a potential problem?…a potential conflict of interest?

                • You’re just repeating the same thing, and I explained why that was a weak argument. when 1% is in the vicinity of 3 million dollars, it is significant. Significant amounts are sufficient to suggest bias. I don’t know why you are obsessed with the fact that all of the support is not from a corrupting source. Any is enough, just like one doesn’t have to have a diet 100% consisting of substances one is allergic to: 1% is enough to kill you. It is the reason why no other major news networks accept government grants. It is why Pravda couldn’t be trusted

                  • Okay just to be clear…you believe that the 1% of government funding NPR is getting is enough to:

                    Make them dependent on the government

                    Enough to make it noteworthy enough to be labeled “government (partially) funded”

                    But not mention where they get the other 99% of their funding from

                    Does this 1% of government funding make NPR untrustworthy?

                    • You don’t want me to be clear, because I have been clear. You just want to say the same thing over and over, because your mind is closed, and you don’t want to learn. So again:

                      1. Getting large sums from the government makes NPR dependent on the government for funding. By definition.

                      2. Is nearly 3 million bucks “Enough to make it noteworthy enough to be labeled “government (partially) funded”? Of course. By definition.

                      3 “But not mention where they get the other 99% of their funding from” Right. Because the non-government funding doesn’t matter as far as dependence on the government is concerned. If it includes funding from, say, the democratic National Committee, the KKK or the Clinton Foundation, those would be concerning, but separate issues.

                      4. “Does this 1% of government funding make NPR untrustworthy?” Of course. Any government funding to supposedly independent journalism organizations makes such organizations untrustworthy…WHICH IS WHY ABC,CBS,NBC, CNN and the rest don’t have any.

                      5. Why is this so hard for you?

                    • Hey…wait! Are you really Amanda Bennett????

                      The head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, a news agency funded entirely by the United States government, claimed Thursday that it is “very misleading” for Twitter to designate the organization as “government-funded.”

                      Amanda Bennett, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, rejected the label during a State Department briefing when asked about Twitter’s designation of Voice of America, a subsidiary of the agency, as “government-funded media.” Twitter added the label to several American outlets, including NPR, which is partially funded by the government.

                      “We completely reject the implications of the label ‘government-funded,’” said Bennett, according to a State Department transcript. “Of course we’re government-funded, but it’s potentially misleading.”

                      Bennett, a former director of Voice of America, claimed that the label could be misconstrued as “government-controlled.” She insisted that the U.S. Agency for Global Media and its subsidiaries are “independent” and “not government-controlled.”

                      Bennett’s case may be a tough sell. The Biden administration allocated $840 million in funds to the U.S. Agency for Global Media this fiscal year. The agency, which operates in 62 countries, is tasked with “telling America’s story and countering anti-American propaganda.” Voice of America says its mission is to “represent America” and to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively.”

                  • And to be clear even still…

                    The 1% is enough to make NPR biased?

                    That’s your argument correct?

                    Does the other 99% of funding NPR received not also make them biased?

                  • “Right. Because the non-government funding doesn’t matter as far as dependence on the government is concerned.”

                    But the other 99% of the funding matters as far as dependence on the other 99%

                    So why isn’t this mentioned as well?

          • I’m having flashbacks to similar arguments about ‘mostly peaceful protests’… some things are poison in any quantity.

        • A great man once wrote, “Just a little yeast leavens the whole loaf.” 99% not-government funded is still government-funded to a degree. How is that misinformation? If someone gets on Twitter (the ignorant, the idiot, the child) and sees that NPR is labeled as “government-funded”, they have the entire internet at their disposal to research it. As an example, it took me about fifteen seconds to type “npr government funding” and get the answer.

          But wait, people on one side of the political spectrum are telling me children are smart enough, mature enough, and informed enough to make decisions about their sexuality, particularly with regards to what sex they think they should be. Clearly, those children are smart enough, mature enough, and informed enough to know about NPR’s level of government assistance.

          You have nothing to worry about.

      • How much public money is funneled up from the local NPR affiliates to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? Our area has 4 or 5 public broadcasting affiliates. I believe GW university runs one of them. The fact that 300 million dollars is not subject to taxation also is a form of subsidy.

        I used to listen to Diane Rheem and All Things Considered and I never heard anything but highly progressive points of view. If they are not slanted toward progressivism then someone should be able to point out any programming they offer that makes mirrors conservative talk radio. I’ll wait to be educated on that.

        • My personal favorites are “Democracy Now,” which should be titled “Marxism Immediately.” And then there’s Terry Gross and “Left Air.”

  5. Like many, I signed up for Twitter after Musk took over, hoping for some real grownup debate on issues, rather than the selective pandering and name-calling the platform had become known for. I believed his mantra of Free Speech and transparency.

    However, a recent ethics issue has arisen which gives me major pause. In late Feb., the CCP issued a stern warning to Musk to quit mentioning a report that confirmed the COVID lab leak came from the Wuhan lab as many have suspected.

    I may have missed it, but have yet to see Musk’s response to that “threat” which implied that if he continued spouting the Wuhan lab theory, there would be grave consequences for his Tesla plant in Shanghai.

    After his planned visit to China this month, Fortune reported, “Tesla Inc. will build a new (Megapack) battery factory in Shanghai, increasing investment in China at a time of brewing tensions between Beijing and Washington.

    Did Musk cave to the CCP? Is his idea of integrity and “transparency” that shallow? Why is he snuggling up to those whose practice of free speech and trustworthiness so diametrically opposed to his? $$$$ must be the answer. Most disappointing.

    • A material distinction: did he remove previous posts regarding the purported lab leak?

      Obviously, it is a conflict of interest to post criticism about a business partner. It can be partially mitigated by leaving existing content intact.

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