Wyoming Public Media Might Leave Twitter Because Elon Musk Tagged NPR "Government Funded Media"

Wyoming Public Media does not want to leave Twitter, but will if Elon Musk’s social media platform persists in calling its parent National Public Radio "state-affiliated" and "government-funded" media.

Clair McFarland

April 13, 20235 min read

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Wyoming Public Media is considering leaving Twitter over its recent labeling of public media outlets as “government-funded” media, but only if Twitter doesn’t modify its approach, according to the company’s general manager.  

“We’re going to monitor further developments and give Twitter the space and opportunity to do a little more research on this, because it looks to me like somebody didn’t do their research,” Christina Kuzmych, Wyoming Public Media general manager, told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “But if they continue with this labeling and continue to put misinformation out there about NPR, we’ll simply take them down and not use them.”  

‘Implicated By Association’ 

Twitter re-labelled National Public Radio (NPR) on its site this month, designating the outlet as “state-affiliated media.” After public outcry, Twitter changed the NPR label again, to “government-funded media.” 

Elon Musk, who bought the social media platform in October for $44 billion, has taunted NPR over the “government-funded” descriptor.

"NPR literally says Federal funding is essential on their website right now," Musk tweeted. "What have you got against the truth, NPR?"

Twitter did the same for the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS), whose national outlet has quit Tweeting on the site, as has NPR.  

Wyoming Public Radio, a Wyoming Public Media service, is an NPR member station.  

Twitter did not re-label Wyoming Public Media, Christina Kuzmych, the outlet’s general manager, told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.  

But Wyoming Public Media is “implicated by association,” reads a statement it posted Thursday to Twitter.  

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Publicly Supported 

Kuzmych said Twitter’s initial “state-affiliated media” label conflates NPR and PBS with news outlets in Russia and China, where the press is entirely an arm of the state.  

“That’s pretty blatant, incorrect labeling,” she said, adding that the public radio stations receive funding from numerous public and private sources.  

The correct terminology, said Kuzmych, is “publicly supported.”  

Wyoming Public Media is not eager to leave Twitter, Kuzmych added, because many of its radio listeners use the site and connect to the outlet through it.   

University Money 

NPR receives less than 1% of its funding directly from the federal government and receives about 34% of its operating funds from member stations and networks like Wyoming Public Media, the statement says.  

Wyoming Public Media, in turn, received $770,940 in state money through the University of Wyoming in fiscal year 2022, according to its expense reports. UW furnished another $640,231 of in-kind support.  

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting gave $357,096 in public funds to the outlet that year as well.  

The three figures together made up roughly 43% of the outlet’s monetary and in-kind revenues, not counting an irregular influx of $364,708 from the federal government’s forgiveness of its COVID-19-era Paycheck Protection Program loans.  

The Wyoming outlet also received about $1.8 million in membership contributions that year, $524,376 from the private business sector, $20,094 in community in-kind support and another $5,524 in grants.  

Kuzmych said that the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 contains safeguards to prevent government officials from dictating what public outlets publish.  

‘Twitter Troll’ 

Musk appears to disagree.  

“Defund @NPR,” Musk tweeted Wednesday in response to the labeling controversy. He called NPR hypocrites in a separate Wednesday tweet showing a screen shot of NPR’s statement that federal funding is “essential” to its operation.  

Tensions between Musk and NPR are not new, as the outlet has covered Musk extensively. In 2022, NPR featured a podcaster who said Musk propagates “unchecked capitalism” and that his efforts to put mankind on Mars echo the age of imperialism.  

NPR in January ran a piece calling Musk “a professional Twitter troll” who “gleefully embrac(es) some right-wing positions from his powerful perch atop the social media giant.”  

Musk has said he’s a political independent.   

Back At The Ranch 

Some legislators in Wyoming are averse to Wyoming Public Media.  

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, posted a call to defund the outlet in January, noting that a Wyoming Public Media writer had used Twitter to ridicule Bouchard’s stance against transgender treatments for kids.  

Bouchard did not respond to a Cowboy State Daily call for comment.  

“The (Wyoming) Legislature itself has never tried to defund NPR,” said Kuzmych. “However, every so often you will have legislators who do not always know how the funding structure of NPR or their local stations work.” 

Kuzmych said that efforts to defund public radio tend to fizzle out.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter