NBC News reportedly temporarily suspended tech correspondent Ben Collins from covering Elon Musk, due to the reporter’s past comment about the billionaire on Twitter, Semafor reports.
Two unnamed sources told the outlet that Collins, known for his hard-hitting stories about social media and online law, was removed from his duties with Musk at NBC and MSNBC due to messages he posted on the new owner of Twitter earlier this month.
In a tweet, the journalist mocked Musk for appearing to take weeks to learn the identity of one of Twitter’s top lawyers after its $44 billion takeover of the social network was completed.
The Independent contacted NBC and Collins for comment.
Media observers and fellow reporters rallied around the NBC reporter, saying Collins was doing important work on Twitter.
“It’s great to see media companies standing up for their journalists amid pretty obvious censorship on Twitter,” said Dan Moynihan, a politics professor at Georgetown University. wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Oh wait. NBC suspended Ben Collins for accurately portraying the guy who censored reporters.
Jason Wilson, reporter for the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote Friday that by suspending Collins, NBC’s newsroom leadership had “sided with the censors, undermined their reporters, and confirmed that they hadn’t learned anything since 2015.”
In a Twitter post Friday morning, Collins post a single heart emoji.
The reported suspension comes in the form of a wave of prominent technical journalists from outlets like CNN, The New York Timesand The Washington Post covering Musk have been suspended from Twitter, raising fears the billionaire is trying to silence the press.
Musk claims some of the reporters “doxxed” him, revealing his personal location in real time, by sharing links related to @ElonJet, a Twitter account that tracks the movements of Musk’s private jet.
Criticizing me all day is fine, but doxxing my location in real time and putting my family at risk is not. Mr. Musk tweeted on Thursday evening.
Many journalists who were suspended said they had never posted anything that violated Twitter’s terms of service.
“I have never posted anything about Elon Jet or that might violate the location disclosure policy. Unless the policy is to criticize Elon and get banned,” Aaron Rupar, a former liberal Vox reporter who was among those suspended, told CNN’s Oliver Darcy.
Elon Musk’s jet tail number has been reported to the public before, and a variety of free and publicly available websites are tracking its location.
On Thursday, Musk, who has described himself as a “free speech absolutist”, abruptly left a Q&A session on Twitter Spaces, an audio chat feature, where reporters asked him about the Twitter content policies.
“There will be no distinction in the future between journalists and ordinary people, everyone will be treated the same,” he said in a testy exchange.
“You’re not special because you’re a journalist, you’re just a citizen,” he continued. “So no preferential treatment: you dox, you’re suspended, end of story.”
The billionaire then left the chat before any more follow-up questions could be asked and the audio stream itself started having issues.