The story of how NPR botched the Tucson shooting story by falsely reporting that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was dead is getting more curious.
NPR's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, has the nearly unbelievable story of the pain the false report caused, including the insistence from NPR that its two sources trumped Giffords' mother, outside the operating room:
NPR correspondent Ted Robbins is based in Tucson. He was at the scene Jan. 8 when his cell phone rang shortly after NPR aired at 2:01 p.m. EST that Giffords died. The call was a friend, who is also a friend of Giffords.
The friend was sitting outside the hospital operating room with Giffords' mother Gloria, holding her hand.
"Please tell them to stop reporting she is dead," he begged Robbins. "She is in surgery."
Robbins immediately called NPR but was told NPR was sticking to the story since it had two sources.
Scott Simon, who is apparently a friend of the Giffords family, also got a call:
"I couldn't fathom how cops or pols would know more than the hospital," said Simon. "Two sources who are not in a position to know something are not reliable sources."
Good question and one that NPR has refused to answer. It has yet to reveal who the source in the sheriff's office was or what congressperson's office is the knowledgeable second source and, moreover, why either one was deemed more reliable than the source outside the operating room with a name and a close connection to the subject at hand.
It's good to be concerned about accuracy but NPR didn't shoot Gabrielle Giffords, Jarod Lee Loughner did.
This reporting error didn't harm anyone but the flap over it is distracting us from more important things like the much needed discussion of Arizona's Wild West gun laws coupled with the incendiary rhetoric of Arizona talk radio.
I'm much more concerned with the rightwing blog talking about a Republican judge being killed, but not mentioning that that Republican judge was hated by Arizona talk radio hosts.