The Catholic League complained to National Public Radio about an online story suggesting that it's "not that unusual" for a priest to be "accused of trying to rape a minor," NPR's ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos blogged recently.
The NPR writer, "NPR's religion reporter" Barbara Bradley Hagerty, explainedto Schumacher-Matos that the phrase was "inartfully written" because she was trying to indicate that " it was the trials of priests for alleged sexual abuse that are not so unusual," according to Schumacher-Matos' report.
Schumacher-Matos arguedthat the "clumsy phrase" could have been avoided if Hagerty's article had been edited but, because of short staffing that weekend, it had not been edited. However, NPR planned to "delete the offending phrase and post an editor's note."
The story now carries a June 5 "clarification" that reads:
"A previous Web version of this story said that a defendant in a sex-abuse trial is 'a priest accused of trying to rape a minor, which is not that unusual.' The wording inaccurately reflected our intended point, which is that trials of priests are not unusual."
Schumacher-Matos notedthat The Catholic League also issued a statement slamming the report, which he indicated went too far and contained possible errors, writing:
"What also is missing is a little bit more measure by The Catholic league. Hagerty, NPR's religion reporter, is widely recognized for her sensitivity to religious beliefs and institutions in her reporting. In this instance, the whole of her report is eminently fair."
The Catholic League's May 30 statement defended Catholic priests, noted that in his "several interviews with NPR recently" NPR has been "very professional," but called the report's wording "offensive characterization so doubly despicable."
Schumacher-Matos wrote last month about another "poor choice of words" by an NPR writer. As we wrote, listeners complained about a May 8 music review on band Chicha Libre.
Hat Tip: Quebec Press Council Magazine