NPR slammed over story highlighting 'disappointment' over Boston electing Asian woman mayor

NPR deemed Wu's win a 'letdown' for some after she defeated African-American candidates

NPR took heat Tuesday after its report that Asian American Michelle Wu’s, D., election win in Boston was considered a "disappointment" to some for being chosen over Black candidates. 

"Michelle Wu, an Asian American, is the first woman and first person of color elected to lead the city. While many are hailing it as a turning point, others see it as more of a disappointment that the three Black candidates couldn't even come close," NPR tweeted. It deleted the tweet after online criticism, although the thrust of the story remained the same.

The linked article headline reads, "Cheers and some letdown as 1st elected woman and person of color becomes Boston Mayor."

NPR MOCKED FOR NEW POLICY ALLOWING JOURNALISTS TO ADVOCATE FOR 'FREEDOM AND DIGNITY OF HUMAN BEINGS'

The article spends much of its length documenting somber reactions to Wu’s victory, with one interviewee admitting they "cried [their] eyes out" because they didn’t know the next time they would see a Black mayor in the city. 

Another interviewee told NPR that they were "let down" by Wu’s win, but was "not surprised" that the Black candidates were unable to emerge victorious.

"It's just one of those things where it feels like what else is new?" she told NPR.

Michelle Wu speaks to supporters after becoming the first woman and first person of color elected mayor in Boston, Massachusetts, on Nov. 2, 2021.

Michelle Wu speaks to supporters after becoming the first woman and first person of color elected mayor in Boston, Massachusetts, on Nov. 2, 2021. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A third interviewee also said he felt "grief" that a Black candidate "didn’t make the cut."

The nonprofit media organization laid out polling data of the race, which showed the three Black candidates got three-quarters of the vote in areas with the highest concentrations of people of color, but only won one-quarter of the votes in the whitest areas. 

NPR also included the reaction of Massachusetts State Rep. Marie St. Fleur, who called the election data "troubling" for a city "still straining under a longtime reputation as racist."

Wu, a former city council member, is the first woman and person of color elected to lead Boston. Born and raised in Chicago, Wu graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School before being unanimously chosen to serve on the Boston City Council at 28 years old. She defeated fellow Democrat Essaibi George, who identifies as Arab American, in the general election after they were the top two finishers in the nonpartisan primary.

NPR MOCKED FOR NEW POLICY ALLOWING JOURNALISTS TO ADVOCATE FOR ‘FREEDOM AND DIGNITY OF HUMAN BEINGS’

The article's framing drew sharp criticism from readers across the spectrum.

"There's merit to the voices in this story of course, but this framing is absolute trash. Why must we pit POCs against each other in storytelling? Why can't we celebrate a woman of color who has just reached a massive milestone in her career?" one journalist asked.

"Interesting which firsts are hailed as indicative of social transformation and which are caveated and contextualized into oblivion," MSNBC contributor Noah Rothman tweeted.

Others blasted NPR and called for its defunding.

Democrat Kim Janey served as Boston's acting mayor this year after Marty Walsh became Labor secretary, making her the first Black mayor in the city's history, but she fell short in the 2021 mayoral primary and endorsed Wu.

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Fox News' David Rutz contributed to this report.

This article was updated to show NPR deleted its initial tweet of the story.