CNN came under fire Monday after some people incorrectly believed the cable news network was debating whether Jewish people are human beings.
In the following clip from Monday’s The Lead, host Jim Sciutto and commentators Rebecca Berg of Real Clear Politics and Matt Viser of the Boston Globe debated whether President-elect Donald Trump would or should denounce often racist and anti-Semitic members of the so-called “alt-right” who helped get him elected.
Here is the segment. That chryon. These times. pic.twitter.com/5vXn5GM7ll— Colin Jones (@colinjones) November 21, 2016
The discussion and the segment’s controversial on-screen headline (known as a chyron) stem from a New York Times article published on Sunday in which Richard B. Spencer, president of the white-nationalist National Policy Institute, questioned the humanity of Jews, whom he believes control the media to protect their personal interests.
“One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” Spencer told a crowd in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
Some online interpreted CNN’s chyron—“Alt-right founder questions if Jews are people”—as the network itself asking whether Jews are, in fact, people. Instead, the conversation surrounded the Trump campaign’s seemingly cozy relationship with bigots, which gained further steam as the president-elect selected Steve Bannon, former head of alt-right organ Breitbart News, as his chief strategist.
Perfect example of the neutrality bias I was talking about here. CNN calls it 50-50. "Jews people? Some say yes, some say no." Fuck CNN. https://t.co/DE6LmXbV8O— Kevin (@Jarferama) November 21, 2016
"Are Jews People?" Why yes... Should that even be a question? This shouldn't be on the news CNN. https://t.co/dcCyfn4aE8— Austin Edwards (@edwards6745) November 21, 2016
A large part of the hot-button misunderstanding seems to stem from people thinking Viser was the alt-right person CNN was referencing in the chyron rather than the deputy Washington bureau chief for the Globe.
The Lead host Jake Tapper, who has hosted the program since January 2013 and is himself Jewish, interrupted his day off on Monday to address the controversy, tweeting that the chyron was “unacceptable” and that he was personally addressing the “bad chyron” despite being off work for the day.
In a statement to the Daily Dot, a CNN spokesperson said the chyron was crafted in “poor judgement.”
“It was poor judgement,” the spokesperson said, “and we very much regret it and apologize.”
Update 8:09pm CT, Nov. 21: Added comment from CNN.