CBS News reported that it instructed its newsroom to not refer to the Covenant School massacre perpetrator as “transgender.”
In a Tuesday memo, top executives from the network informed staffers that CBS News had not confirmed the perpetrator’s gender identity and that reporters shouldn’t include this information in reports about the massacre.
The memo said that CBS News has not confirmed the shooter’s gender identity. It was distributed on Tuesday via an editorial call. “As such, we should not mention it because it is of no relevance to the crime. If that changes, we will reconsider.”
According to the New York Post, Claudia Milne and Ingrid Ciprian–Matthews is responsible for this directive. Ciprian-Matthews, executive vice president of newsgathering for CBS News, is the Washington bureau chief. Claudia Milne serves as senior vice president for standards and practices.
The memo continued, “Right now we advise saying: POLICE IDENTIFIED THE SUSPECT AS A 28-YEAR-OLD [THE KILLER’S NAME], WHO THEY SHOT AND KILLED AT THE SCENE.”
Instead of focusing on the identity of the perpetrator, the memo directed staff to “focus on other important points in the investigation, community, and solutions.”
A spokesperson for CBS News confirmed the report in a statement:
We await the manifesto of the perpetrator and any details regarding the motive. We will review our reporting and make revisions, as we have stated in our guidance.
Further support for the directive was found on the CBS News website. In the last week, 32 stories have been published by CBS News about transgender issues. Only one of those stories, about the Nashville massacre was published by the news outlet on the same day as network executives had issued their instructions.
CBS staffers were left confused by the directive. Law enforcement confirmed that the perpetrator was transgender and a biological male who identified as a female, and strongly suggested that the motive for the crime is the perpetrator’s identity. However, the killer’s manifesto has not been released.
Sources within the New York Post reported that CBS employees were shocked by the directive.
One CBS staffer stated that “this is absurd because [the killer] was identified by the police as transgender.” “If the cops didn’t address it, maybe it was possible to avoid it. But withholding information isn’t journalism.”
Another source stated that “This isn’t an editorial decision.” “They made a decision based on their personal feelings.”