In just 10 days, CNN has severed ties with two prominent TV personalities who criticized President Donald Trump: first Kathy Griffins and now Reza Aslan.
The network announced on Friday that it has “decided to not move forward with production" on Aslan's “Believer” series after the Iranian-American religious studies scholar called the president “a piece of s***” in an impassioned tweet.
“This piece of s*** is a not just an embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency. He's an embarrassment to humankind,” his post read.
The tweet came in reaction to the president’s push for a travel ban in wake of the London Bridge attack.
Aslan has been a strong opponent of Trump for quite some time but his latest tweet took things too far, in the minds of some critics. Bowing to the pressure of prominent conservatives and Trump supporters, CNN decided to end its contract with Aslan.
While doing so, the network also pointed out the religious scholar was not an employee of CNN.
"We wish Reza and his production team all the best," the channel also added.
Shortly after the controversy, Aslan apologized for his hasty words:
“I lost my cool and responded to him in a derogatory fashion. That's not like me,” Aslan said in a statement the next day. “I should have used better language to express my shock and frustration at the president's lack of decorum and sympathy for the victims of London. I apologize for my choice of words.”
But he also said he was disappointed by CNN’s decision.
The decision to fire Aslan came a week after CNN split with Kathy Griffins although neither she nor Aslan served as journalists to the channel. Griffin only appeared once a year on the network’s New Year Eve’s program along with her friend Anderson Cooper and was known for her lewd joke and satirical comedy. Aslan hosted “Believer,” a travel documentary showcasing the different religions of the world.
While cutting ties with Aslan, CNN said, “That kind of discourse is never appropriate.” However, Aslan’s “Believer” is a relatively new type of experimental show which requires strong, driven, opinionated personalities. If these individuals feel their freedom of speech will be restricted, would they really feel like working for the network?
And if CNN is really out to “protect its brand as an unbiased news outlet,” like Aslan implied, then how can they justify employing Trump toadies like Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh McEnany or Corey Lewandowski?
Lewandowski was caught manhandling former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields at a campaign rally. It was also reported that he once called a female colleague “cu**” in front of coworkers. However, soon after he resigned following Trump’s victory, CNN hired him.
The network has also received a lot of flak for hiring Lord and McEnany, who may not use profanity but have made remarks that have offended a lot of sensibilities.
CNN president Jeff Zucker have defended his action saying, “Everybody says, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you have Jeffrey Lord or Kayleigh McEnany,’ but you know what? They know who Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany are.”
Does this mean it doesn’t matter what kind of stance these individuals promote as long as the channel gets ratings? If so, it seems these standards did not apply to Aslan.
You know what's worse than Reza Aslan calling Trump "A piece of shit"— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) June 10, 2017
What Trump has done to us to encite being called "A piece of shit"
Reza Aslan gets fired for tweeting Trump is a "piece of sh**t" but Jack Kingston gets to tweet this racist crap and keep his CNN job. SMH. https://t.co/BaxgkFCzK6— Yashar Ali (@yashar) June 9, 2017
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters