Boston Herald’s NPR Headline Not Precisely Right

Saturday’s Boston Herald features this piece:

NPR official admits fault in firing

National Public Radio’s ombudswoman admitted the nonprofit botched the firing of Juan Williams for his remarks about Muslims making him nervous on planes, but the firestorm around the longtime news analyst’s ouster has fueled speculation that it could be another boon for the GOP less than two weeks ahead of the hotly contested midterm elections.

That headline manages to get the story wrong in at least two ways:

1) Alicia Shepard, the ombudsman, is not an NPR official. She is the listeners’ representative. She does not speak for the network, but attempts to hold the network accountable.

2) As such, Shepard did not “admit fault” in the firing of Williams – she found fault. And not that Williams was fired, as the Herald story itself states:

In a lengthy column at, Shepard defended the decision to fire Williams, wondering how Williams, who is black, would have reacted if another analyst had admitted nervousness at the sight of “an African American male in Dashiki with a big Afro.”

What Shepard actually criticized was how Williams got fired, as the story also notes:

But Shepard said of NPR’s over-the-phone dismissal, “a more deliberative approach might have enabled NPR to avoid what has turned into a public relations nightmare.”

So that’s actually three errors in the course of six words.

That’s some headline.

Then again, the headline on this post is Not Precisely Right either.

It should read:

Boston Herald’s NPR Headline Flat-Out Wrong.

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