Audie Cornish, NPR Reporter Partly to Blame for Errant Gabrielle Giffords Death Report, Gets a Promotion

Following the January 8 Tucson shooting rampage, during which Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot through the brain, her husband, astronaut Mark Kelley, told reporters that the "low point" of the whole ordeal was, naturally, hearing a false report that his wife was dead.

Now, one of the reporters responsible for the false report is getting promoted at National Public Radio.

NPR announced that Audie Cornish will take over host duties on its Weekend Edition Sunday program, a promotion for the long-time guest host of the show.

"Audie is an outstanding journalist and a wonderful storyteller," Ellen McDonnell, executive director of news programming for NPR, says in a statement -- obviously not referring to the "story" Cornish told about Giffords being dead. "Audiences will connect with her warmth, curiosity, and humor. We're thrilled she is taking on this new role."

The morning of the shooting, NPR was the first to report that Giffords had been killed in the attack -- the problem with that, of course, is that she wasn't.

News that the congresswoman was dead made its way to national network television, as well as the home pages of nearly every website covering the shooting (New Times' EXCLUDED -- we figured we'd wait to report it until we heard it from a source a little more reliable than NPR).

In the weeks following the shooting, it was revealed that the rumor of Giffords' death came from Cornish -- who was a reporter covering Capitol Hill at the time -- who'd heard it from a "Congressional source," and from Mark Moran, news director of Phoenix public radio station KJZZ, who claimed to have heard it from a source within the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

Regardless of where they heard it, Cornish, Moran, and NPR never confirmed it, and jumped the gun in reporting it.

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James King
Contact: James King

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