audrey hale transgender school shooter
© Linkedin/Audrey HaleCBS asked employees to avoid identifying shooter Audrey Hale as transgender in its reporting, even though the police provided the information as part of the investigation.
Top executives at CBS News have banned staffers from using the word "transgender" when reporting on the Nashville shooter — despite the fact that police have said Audrey Hale was just that and cited it as a key point in the case, The Post has learned.

"The shooter's gender identity has not been confirmed by CBS News," the network's executives insisted in a Tuesday memo obtained by The 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."

The CBS News directive was delivered on a Tuesday morning editorial call by Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, the executive vice president of newsgathering, and Claudia Milne, the senior vice president of standards and practices, according to sources close to the Tiffany Network.

"Right now we advise saying: POLICE IDENTIFIED THE SUSPECT AS A 28-YEAR-OLD AUDREY HALE, WHO [sic] 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.

cbs executives ban term transgender milne Ciprian-Matthews
© CBSCBS News execs Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews (L) and Claudia Milne(R)
Sources said Ciprian-Matthews and Milne spent 15 minutes on the Tuesday call discussing the directive — which bewildered many journalists, given that Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Hale was transgender and that her identity may be relevant to the motive.

"This is absurd because the police identified Hale as transgender," a CBS insider said. "If the cops didn't address it, maybe you could avoid it, but withholding information is not journalism."

The decision has since been reflected in the network's coverage. Hours after the shooting on Monday morning, correspondent Janet Shamlian reported on "CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell" that Hale "identifies as transgender."

Following CBS' Tuesday call, however, the mentions of Hale's gender identity stopped.

"We are waiting to see the manifesto [written by Hale] 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."

The CBS spokeswoman declined to comment further.

The Tuesday call with the CBS News execs left the network's roughly 150 staffers stunned into awkward silence, according to a source who was on the call. The source noted that the two CBS News execs appeared to be "twisting themselves in knots" by censoring the reporting over their own "liberal bias," which is ultimately a "disservice" to the network's audience.

"You need to look at all the facts of the case," the angry CBS source told The Post. "Everyone should be invested in understanding what happened. I don't know how you do that without understanding the full scope of the situation."

Rivals including NBC News, ABC News, CNN and the New York Times have all reported that police said Hale was transgender and used he/him pronouns and the name Aiden.

On NBC News, anchor Lester Holt on Tuesday interviewed Drake, Nashville's police chief, noting that police had said Hale "identified as trans" and asking, "Do you believe there is a connection to that?"

Drake, who earlier in the day had told reporters that Hale "does identify as transgender," responded that "we're still in the initial investigation into all of that and if it actually played a role into this incident."

Nevertheless, sources said CBS execs are refusing to report on that aspect of the investigation of the shooting, in which Hale allegedly killed three children and three adults.

"Are we communicating to our readers and viewers that they cannot handle the basic facts of the case?" the source added.

When CBS on Wednesday reported on Twitter's suspension of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's account over a "vengeance" post, it merely mentioned Hale's treatment for an "emotional disorder," citing information that was released a day earlier.

During Tuesday's call, one employee asked how to navigate the transgender issue during the news-gathering process if reporters interviewed friends and family of Hale and the subject came up.

Milne said each situation would have to be assessed individually, which one insider said sounded like those details would be "eliminated" from the report.

The network may run into scrutiny when more details of Hale's manifesto, "struggles" and "emotional" issues are released, a second source added.

"You can't avoid who this person is," the source said, before turning to Ciprian-Matthews and Milne. "This is not an editorial decision. They made a judgment based on personal feelings."