Kiev’s transgender spokesperson ends boycott of CNN
The transgender American war correspondent who was selected last month to run the Ukrainian military’s English-language propaganda operation has called off a boycott of CNN after apparently persuading the media outlet to cease referring to foreign fighters in the country as “mercenaries.”
Sarah Ashton-Cirillo ended the boycott campaign on Thursday afternoon, hours after it began, citing CNN’s “rapid response” to her public complaint earlier in the day. The network revised an article published last week that had included a reference to “Western mercenaries,” changing their description to “Western foreign fighters.”
Ashton-Cirillo had posted a video message on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, denouncing CNN and its diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. “Nic Robertson, you referred to us as foreign mercenaries. There’s nothing further from the truth, nor further from the legal definition.”
The former freelance journalist, who joined Ukraine’s military last year, also chided Robertson for failing to respond to emails complaining about his choice of words. “Based on your terminology of us as Western mercenaries, which has clearly put our lives in danger, along with the fact that your colleagues decided to show … rotting bodies of Ukrainian soldiers in the sun for the world to see, I have to recommend that nobody in the Armed Forces of Ukraine works with CNN in any capacity until we’ve received an apology directly from you Nic, as well as the CNN production team on the ground here,” Ashton-Cirillo said.
Ironically, Ashton-Cirillo was criticized in October 2022 for recording a video of herself with a dead body visible in the background as she reported on a missile strike in Kiev. Last week, Ashton-Cirillo caused another stir on social media by referring to Russian soldiers as inhuman. “We are human, and those guys most definitely aren’t,” the Ukrainian spokesperson said.
Nevertheless, Ashton-Cirillo claimed to take the high road in condemning CNN: “Ultimately, we cannot have our lives at risk to spite your desire to have clicks and views. Free press matters. Ethical journalism matters more.”