Ambassador Christopher Stevens' journal, found in an "unlocked room" in the US Embassy in Benghazi, was used as a source by CNN without his family's permission.
The US State Department issued a blistering reaction to the news source's actions, calling the decision to use the late Ambassador's private journal "disgusting" and an "indefensible" invasion of privacy, the Wall Street Journal reported.
CNN defended its use of the journal's contents and asked "why is the State Department now attacking the messenger?" according to the Christian Science Monitor.
"CNN did not initially report on the existence of a journal out of respect for the family, but we felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting, which we did," the channel said.
According to Philippe Reines, senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the network first transcribed the interview before notifying the family that they had uncovered Stevens' journal.
"When they [CNN] finally did tell them, they completely ignored the wishes of the family, and ultimately broke their pledge made to them only hours after they witnessed the return to the United States of Chris’s remains," Reines said in a statement to Politico. "Whose first instinct is to remove from a crime scene the diary of a man killed along with three other Americans serving our country, read it, transcribe it, email it around your newsroom for others to read, and only when their curiosity is fully satisfied thinks to call the family or notify the authorities?"
CNN's Anderson Cooper admitted to using the journal's contents Friday night, after being contacted by Huffington Post reporter Michael Calderone, who had received a tip that the network was using the Ambassador's journal as a source.
Calderone's call was not returned, but CNN responded later, referring him to their on-air admission.
"CNN did not initially report on the existence of a journal out of respect for the family, but we felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting," the network argues. "We think the public had a right to know what CNN had learned from multiple sources..."