The Free Lance-Star quickly issued a full-throated apology. It read, in part:
Due to editing errors, the headline was wrong on our front-page story Tuesday about the U.S. Supreme Court vacating former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s convictions.There are several factors that can help explain what happened. We’ve been struggling to adapt to a new software system. And on this particular story, we were making changes to the design of the page and in doing so strayed from our normal process for writing and editing headlines.
The error is somewhat understandable. "McDonnell" and "McAuliffe" do sort of sound alike. And they are (or were) governors of Virginia. Also, any time someone like me sees or writes about a headline error, it's a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I situation. We all make mistakes. They are almost always totally unintentional.
This one is so irresistible — and delicious — though, because of the fact that while McDonnell's conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court on Monday, McAuliffe is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors for a series of campaign contributions and questionable personal finances.
As I said: Best worst headline error ever.