CBS has announced the network has fired a New York reporter for passing on false information about HIV/AIDS in a recent story.
The unnamed reporter published a story and social media posts in December regarding an attack by an HIV-positive man on a police officer. The story claimed that by spitting on the officer, the assailant had put him at risk for transmission of the virus. One tweet referred to the incident as an “HIV ATTACK,” and claimed the “suspect admitted they spit into an officer’s mouth knowing they had HIV.” In reality, HIV cannot be transmitted by saliva.
“This online story should not have been published,” CBS New York told Gay City News in a statement. “It does not meet our journalistic standards, nor does it reflect our core values. The person who wrote and published the story and social media post failed to review the copy with our news managers. This individual is no longer employed by CBS New York.”
The Port Authority Police Benevolent Association is said to have been the origin of the information in the false tweet. An unnamed member of the PAPBA apparently disclosed the suspect’s HIV status to CBS, which may violate privacy law. The comments also furthered the misconception that spit can transmit HIV.
“The problem is when a person with an infectious disease has a weapon, we have a problem with that,” PAPBA public information officer Bob Egbert told GCN. “A guy who knowingly has an infectious disease — that’s a problem.” The union has yet to apologize for the comments.