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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.
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.
Sure, CNN, “are Jews people” is totally a “gotta’ hear both sides” thing
— Alex Wolinetz (@alexwolinetz) 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.
Andrew Couts is the former editor of Layer 8, a section dedicated to the intersection of the Internet and the state—and the gaps in between. Prior to the Daily Dot, Couts served as features editor and features writer for Digital Trends, associate editor of TheWeek.com, and associate editor at Maxim magazine. When he’s not working, Couts can be found hiking with his German shepherds or blasting around on motorcycles.