Language Gaffes in the Media

Trebek/Obama/Borger/Montagne

QUESTION: What do Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, President Obama, and journalists Gloria Borger and Renée Montagne have in common?

ANSWER: They all need to learn the difference between who and whom.

  • Alex Trebek commenting on a previous Jeopardy winner: “She didn’t know who she’d be facing.”

Correction: She didn’t know whom she’d be facing.

  • President Obama in his announcement about refugees: “The US is increasing the number of refugees who we welcome within our borders.”

Correction: The US is increasing the number of refugees whom we welcome within our borders.

  • Gloria Borger (CNN) speaking about Justice Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court: “I do think who the President nominates matters.”

Correction: I do think whom the President nominates matters.

  • Renée Montagne (NPR) asks, “Who do you hear people blaming for the accidental bombing of the Afghani hospital?”

Correction: Whom do you hear people blaming for the accidental bombing of the Afghani             hospital?

GRAMMAR RULEWho is nominative and is used for subjects and predicate nominatives.

Whom is objective and is used for direct and indirect objects and for objects

of phrases.

See: The Cooper Hill Stylebook § 6.