*CNN president Jeff Zucker on Tuesday expressed regret over a story posted to the network’s website referring to slain Baltimore resident Freddie Gray as “the son of an illiterate heroin addict.”
“This was a mistake,” Zucker said at a town hall event for staffers, according to a transcript the network provided to TheWrap. “The digital team removed it last night and inserted an editors note to be completely transparent. The editorial intent as the digital team has laid it out to me was to make clear he had a difficult upbringing. But clearly it did not come across that way when it was written and published. We recognize that. It did not work and we removed it. And were transparent about that. That was a mistake.”
According to TheWrap, a witness described Zucker’s comments as an apology and his demeanor as conciliatory. However, a CNN spokesperson disputed the characterization, saying: “He never used the word ‘apology,’ nor any word that evokes apology.”
Social media pounced on CNN’s choice of words in its story about the trial of William Porter, one of the six Baltimore officer’s charged in Gray’s death. “The April 19 death of Freddie Gray, the son of an illiterate heroin addict, made him a symbol of the black community’s distrust of police,” the article stated.
CNN was ripped by many for what appeared to be an insensitive depiction of the victim.
“Here we go. Freddie Gray on trial in the murder of Freddie Gray,” one Twitter user wrote.