CNN Fired Rick Santorum for Racist, Pro-Colonization Comments

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KENA BETANCUR
KENA BETANCUR

CNN finally fired Rick Santorum, nearly a month after the former Pennsylvania Senator made racist, pro-colonization comments about Native Americans at an event for young conservatives. The Huffington Post first reported this news.

“We birthed a nation from nothing, I mean nothing was here,” Santorum said on April 26. “I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

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His words were swiftly condemned by the National Congress of American Indians and Illuminative, a nonprofit that challenges harmful stereotypes of Indigenous peoples. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary, told Huffington Post his comments were “unfortunate.”

“Perhaps we haven’t done a good job of educating Americans about Indian history, because Native American history truly is American history,” Haaland added.

Santorum, a political commentator on CNN, later told Chris Cuomo that he “misspoke,” but did not apologize for what he said. A CNN senior executive told The Huffington Post that “leadership wasn’t particularly satisfied with that appearance,” and that “none of the anchors wanted to book him.” Santorum’s contract, the exec added, “quietly” ended this week.

Don Lemon, another CNN anchor, told Cuomo the interview made him “furious.”

“Did he actually think it was a good idea for him to come on television and try to whitewash the whitewash that he whitewashed? It was horrible and insulting and I apologize to the viewers who were insulted by this,” Lemon said.

Chris Cuomo, it should be noted, is also under CNN-related public scrutiny this week after The Washington Post revealed he had consulted with his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on how to respond to recent allegations of sexual harassment from female staffers. CNN told the outlet it would not penalize Cuomo for the ethical breech.

What Does It Take to Get a White Man Fired From CNN?

Wajahat Ali, a columnist at The Daily Beast and former CNN commentator, wrote this month about the extreme standards contributors of color are held to at the network. Meanwhile white men like Santorum, Ali wrote, often get second and third chances.

“The lesson from all these examples is crystal clear for most commentators of color: You can be a nativist, a bigot, an Islamophobe, a homophobe, a creep and a liar, but as long as you’re good for the bottom line and you don’t piss off the right-wing outrage mob, you are good for cable news,” Ali wrote. “If you happen to be a white conservative, like Rick Santorum, you’ll always have a blank slate to birth new controversies.”

On Thursday, as The Huffington Post noted, Indigenous groups and Hollywood activists embarked on a “day of action” to encourage CNN to #RemoveRick. Notable names tied to this initiative were Joaquin Phoenix, Ed Helms, Sarah Silverman, Piper Perabo, and Mark Ruffalo.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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