CBS News banned the use of the term transgender to refer to the Nashville shooter. Initially, the television network did use this term to refer to the perpetrator of the massacre. However, just a day later, any reference to her sexual identity has been completely omitted. And now, Audrey Hale has never been referred to as a transgender person again.
As revealed by The New York Post, the decision was imposed by the network's top executives. On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the massacre took place, television workers received the following memo:
The shooter’s gender identity has not been confirmed by CBS News. 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.
In it, Vice Presidents Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews and Claudia Milne recommended avoiding using the Nashville shooter's sexual identity. It also included how they should refer to Audrey Hale: "Right now we advise saying: police identified the suspect as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who they shot and killed at the scene." In addition, to avoid any mention that might occur about the gender of the shooter, they recommended focusing on other important points of the investigation, the community and the solutions.
Debate on the order imposed by the board of CBS News
The workers discussed the order. The New York Post reported that employees of the chain, surprised at the decision, told management that it was information fully confirmed by the police. Moreover, they were assured that it was a relevant piece of information when reporting the case, as confirmed by Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Josh Drake.
They said this information could be relevant to understanding Audrey Hale's motive for committing the massacre. That's why, a CBS source told the New York Post, it's necessary to talk about the shooter's sexual identity: "This is absurd because the police identified Hale as transgender. If the cops didn’t address it, maybe you could avoid it but withholding information is not journalism."
CBS is not alone in censoring this information. Other progressive media outlets such as the New York Times, CNN and USA Today, have also omitted this information and some even claimed that the police had confused the gender. NBC News' decision is also surprising. The network decided, instead of recounting the facts, to focus its attention on the transgender community by publishing, the next day, the following article, "Fear pervades Tennessee's trans community amid focus on Nashville shooter's gender identity."