CBS News executives banned reporters from mentioning that Nashville shooter Audrey Hale was transgender.
Hale, 28, was a biological woman who used “he/him” pronouns and the alias Aiden.
On Monday, Hale went to The Covenant Christian school in Nashville, where she shot and killed three nine-year-old children and three adult staff members. She was fatally shot by law enforcement within minutes of their arrival.
Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake has said that Hale was transgender and that it may be relevant to the motive. She also left a manifesto, which is expected to be released publicly after FBI profilers finish their review.
However, CBS News executives Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, the executive vice president of newsgathering, and Claudia Milne, the senior vice president of standards and practices, told reporters on a Tuesday morning editorial call that Hale’s “gender identity” has “no known relevance to the crime” and therefore should not be mentioned.
“The shooter’s gender identity has not been confirmed by CBS News,” the network’s executives said to reporters, obtained by The New York Post. “As such, we should avoid any mention of it as it has no known relevance to the crime. Should that change, we can and will revisit.”
“Right now we advise saying: POLICE IDENTIFIED THE SUSPECT AS A 28-YEAR-OLD AUDREY HALE, WHO THEY SHOT AND KILLED AT THE SCENE,” the Tuesday memo said. “And move on to focus on other important points of the investigation, community and solutions.
One CBS reporter on the call told the Post that what the organization is doing “is not journalism.”
“This is absurd because the police identified Hale as transgender,” the CBS insider told the Post. “If the cops didn’t address it, maybe you could avoid it but withholding information is not journalism.”
“Are we communicating to our readers and viewers that they cannot handle the basic facts of the case?” the source added.
The source told the newspaper that the two female executives were “twisting themselves into knots” to censor the reporting over their own “liberal bias.”
“You can’t avoid who this person is,” the source said. “This is not an editorial decision. They made a judgment based on personal feelings.”
A CBS spokeswoman told the newspaper that they are waiting for the manifesto before discussing the fact that Hale identified as transgender.
“We are waiting to see the Manifesto and any details about motive,” a CBS spokeswoman told The Post. “As we say in our guidance, we will then review and revise our reporting.”