The Twitter account for National Public Radio has been labeled with the “state-affiliated media” designation used for Russian and Chinese propaganda, but Musk’s critics point out that his companies get a hell of a lot more federal subsidies than NPR does.

One can’t help but get a sense that many of Elon Musk’s out-of-the-blue provocations on the Twitter platform he now owns are just distractions meant to deflect attention from the site’s failure to execute on technical goals. For instance: Last weekend was supposed to be the removal of blue checks from verified accounts, so that only people who paid the $8 a month subscription would be left with blue checks. Yet the deadline came and went, and the platform has still not removed the blue checks from previously “verified accounts.” So Musk huffily removed only the New York Times’ blue check, apparently just to prove he could do it to someone.

Screenshot via NPR

Another completely unprovoked bit of shit-stirring developed Tuesday, as KPIX reports that Twitter labeled the National Public Radio (NPR) account as "U.S. state-affiliated media," which KPIX explains is “the same icon placed on outlets like Russia's state-owned news agency TASS or China's New China News Agency, the official state news agency of the People's Republic of China.”

We will get meta again and refer to NPR’s own reporting on NPR being labeled as “state-affiliated media.”

"NPR operates independently of the U.S. government," that outlet says. "And while federal money is important to the overall public media system, NPR gets less than 1% of its annual budget, on average, from federal sources."

"NPR officials have asked Twitter to remove the label," NPR adds. "They initially assumed it was applied by mistake, NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara said. 'We were not warned. It happened quite suddenly [Tuesday] night.'"

NPR CEO and president John Lansing said in a Wednesday statement that “We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media,’ a description that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NPR.”

About those guidelines: As seen above, Twitter actively changed their guidelines simply to remove NPR. The guidelines originally said “State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, will not be labeled.” The site apparently scrubbed NPR from that description hours after slapping the “‘state-affiliated” tag on their account.

NPR apparently operates on a roughly $300 million a year budget, or at least, its revenue and expenses are both at around $300 million. So that’s about $3 million from the federal government per year, if we take them at the 1% figure. Meanwhile, Musk's own companies SpaceX and Tesla have received more than $5 billion in government support, raising some fair questions about who, exactly, is the “state-affiliated” one here.

Related: Disgruntled Former Employee Allegedly Leaked Twitter's Source Code on GitHub [SFist]

Screenshot via NPR