NPR “PROPAGANDA” WAS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Some thought NPR was spreading “propaganda,” but it was the Declaration of Independence
For about 20 minutes Tuesday, NPR traveled back to 1776.
To echo its 29-year on-air tradition,the public radio network’s main Twitter account tweeted out the Declaration of Independence, line by line.
There — in 113 consecutive posts, in 140character increments — was the text of the treasured founding document of the United States, from its soaring opening to its searing indictments of King George III’s “absolute tyranny” to its very last signature.
Who could have taken issue with such a patriotic exercise, done in honor of the nation’s birthday?
Quite a few people, it turned out. Perhaps it was the Founding Fathers’ capitalization of random words or the sentence fragments into which some of the Declaration’s most recognizable lines were broken. But plenty of Twitter users reacted angrily to the thread, accusing NPR of spamming them — or, worse, trying to push an agenda.
“Seriously, this is the dumbest idea I have ever seen on twitter,” a Twitter user named Darren Mills said after NPR had only gotten as far as the Declaration’s dateline. “Literally no one is going to read 5000 tweets about this trash. this is why you’re going to get defunded” — (@darren_mills)
One user wondered if NPR’s social-media accounts had been hacked, and the network lost at least one follower who called the tweets “spam.”
“In case you’re missing it, looks like @NPR has been hacked, tweeting like crazy!” — @Trackerinblue
“This is spam I get alerts for NPR tweets because they are important My device is alarming nonstop. unfollowing.” — @btravan_IT
The blowback increased when the tweets reached the portion of the Declaration that outlined, in unsparing detail, all the ways Britain’s King George III had wronged the colonies.
“He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers,” read one line.
“A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people,” read another.
Some people — presumably still in the dark about NPR’s July Fourth exercise — assumed those lines were references to President Donald Trump.
“So, NPR is calling for revolution. Interesting way to condone the violence while trying to sound ‘patriotic.’ Your implications are clear.” — @JustEsrafel
“Propaganda is that all you know how? Try supporting a man who wants to do something about the Injustice in this country #drainingtheswamp,” tweeted one user whose account has since been deleted but whose messages were captured by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Melissa Martin.
Upworthy writer Parker Molloy took images of several more indignant replies to NPR, including one who told the media organization to “Please stop. This is not the right place.”
By Wednesday morning, many of the replies above had been deleted. However, at least one Twitter user admitted he had “screwed up” and apologized to NPR.
“I Tweeted a VERY dumb comment. But ask yourselves; if read to the average American, would they know that you were reading the DOI? I do now.” — @JustEsrafel
The Declaration of Independence is, of course, one of the country’s most important documents, adopted at the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The text and purpose of the Declaration would likely be recognizable to those who have applied for U.S. citizenship, because questions about the document appear on the naturalization test.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has an extensive list of study materials and other Declaration-related resources for prospective citizens.
NPR’s “Morning Edition” has had a nearly three-decade-long tradition of broadcasting a reading of the Declaration of Independence on July Fourth each year. More than two dozen NPR journalists participated in this year’s reading.