NPR began its report “A Rare Look Inside Locked-Down Nicaragua” (9/10/23) with the demonstrably false claim that Nicaragua has “kept all foreign journalists out for more than a year.” This led into a harrowing story of how its reporter arrived in Nicaragua…and reported without incident. In 2023 alone, numerous foreign journalists from press outlets from all parts of the world have reported from Nicaragua. Broadcast outlets based in the United States, China, Russia, Iran and around Latin America have regularly filed reports in both English and Spanish. Independent reporters from the United States, Canada and Britain have reported in outlets such as the Morning Star, Rabble and Black Agenda Report.
I hate agreeing with anything Elon Musk does, but recently Twitter labeled National Public Radio (NPR) as “state-affiliated media” on the social media site, a move some worried could undermine public confidence in the news organization. The Associated Press reported that it was unclear why Twitter made the move. But Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk, quoted a definition of state-affiliated media in the company’s guidelines as “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” “Seems accurate,” Musk tweeted .
As part of an ongoing, impulsive and reactionary legacy news outlets, Elon Musk’s added to its list of “state-affiliated media”—a label from which all US media had, until recently, been exempt (FAIR.org, 1/6/23). NPR (4/5/23) rebuked the label, and major media rushed to the public broadcaster’s defense. “Twitter Slaps NPR With a Dubious New Tag: ‘State-Affiliated Media,’” read a Washington Post headline (4/5/23). Vanity Fair (4/5/23) lambasted the “false equivalence between NPR and state propaganda agencies.” CBS News (4/5/23), AP (4/5/23) and CNN (4/5/23) emphatically quoted NPR’s self-description as a purveyor of “independent, fact-based journalism.” The New York Times (4/5/23) offered an oblique criticism of Twitter’s labeling schemes under Musk as “unevenly enforced.”
NPR ran several stories on Afghanistan to mark the anniversary of the August 2021 US withdrawal, even sending host Steve Inskeep to the country to produce a series of pieces. His visit happened to coincide with Biden’s claimed assassination of Ayman al-Zawahiri; Inskeep says that he and his team were staying in close proximity to the Al Qaeda leader. With the anniversary and assassination providing a renewed focus on Afghanistan, NPR could have used this opportunity to call attention to the US policy of starving Afghanistan by restricting its international trade activity and seizing its central banking reserves.
In the first part of a series of reports on Afghanistan, NPR host Steve Inskeep (Morning Edition, 8/5/22) interviewed current Afghan Defense Minister Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid. In introducing Yaqoob on air, Inskeep referenced Yaqoob’s father, the former head of the Taliban, Mullah Muhammad Omar: “He was the leader who refused to turn over Osama bin Laden in 2001, a refusal that led to the US attack.” In the online version of the article, NPR wrote: “Omar also sheltered Osama bin Laden, and refused to turn over the Al Qaeda leader when the United States demanded him after 9/11.” This line that the Taliban “refused to turn over Osama bin Laden,” and that this “led to the US attack,” though part of the commonly accepted chronology of the war, is a gross distortion of history.