CBS News banned its reporters from using the word "transgender" to describe the Nashville school shooter, who police confirmed was a biological woman who identified as male.
"The shooter’s gender identity has not been confirmed by CBS News," executives told the newsroom earlier this week, according to 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."
But Nashville police on Monday told the press that the shooter Audrey Hale, who went by "Aiden," "identifies as transgender" and that they were investigating if her transgender identity "actually played a role into this incident." Hale killed three nine-year-olds and three adults at the Covenant School, a private Christian school, on Monday, leaving behind an unreleased manifesto which may give insight into her motive and whether her sexual identity played a role.
Media outlets this week have placed blame at the feet of Republicans for the massacre, in some cases describing transgender people as victims of the tragedy. NBC News said "conservatives rushed to blame the massacre on the suspect’s gender identity, connecting the tragedy to their national crusade against transgender rights."
The Nation columnist and MSNBC talking head Elie Mystal said, "Republicans are complicit in these murderers" as "the party of literal death."
The CBS memo told reporters to say "police identified the suspect as a 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who [sic] they shot and killed at the scene."
CBS then instructed the reporters to move on and not mention the transgender detail.
"And move on to focus on other important points of the investigation, community, and solutions," the executives said.
The White House’s responses to the attack have also come under fire. Hours after the shooting, President Joe Biden joked with a crowd about ice cream before addressing the killings. On Thursday, he released a statement condemning "violence against transgender women."