CNN Parts Ways With Reza Aslan After He Deems Trump a "Piece of Shit"
"I recognize that CNN needs to protect its brand as an unbiased news outlet," the host of the show 'Believer' said.
CNN is parting ways with another provocative personality. The network said on Friday that it would not move forward with a second season of Reza Aslan's Believer after the Iranian-American author characterized President Trump as a "piece of shit" on Twitter.
Aslan's tweet was in response a tweet in which the president asserted that the recent terrorist attacks in London were an example of why his Muslim travel ban is needed. The president's tweet was widely condemned. And Aslan quickly apologized for his profane characterization.
In a statement, CNN did not give a reason for not renewing Aslan's show: “CNN has decided to not move forward with production on the acquired series Believer With Reza Aslan. We wish Reza and his production team all the best. “
But in his own statement Aslan accepted the implication that CNN was distancing itself from him because of his tweet.
“Obviously I am very disappointed in this decision," said Aslan in a statement posted on his Twitter feed. "Believer means a great deal to me and to the countless viewers it’s reached. Its message of religious tolerance and exploration is extremely important right now. I am deeply grateful to CNN for giving me the opportunity to launch the show and to amplify my voice on their network. I am especially grateful to the legion of people within the Turner organization who worked so hard to make the show a hit series."
He added "However, in these politically charged times, the tenor of our nation’s discourse has become complicated, and I recognize that CNN needs to protect its brand as an unbiased news outlet. Similarly, I need to honor my voice. I am not a journalist. I am a social commentator and scholar. And so I agree with CNN that it is best that we part ways. I look forward to partnering with another platform in the future to continue to spread my message. I wish CNN all the best.”
CNN was unequivocal in its reasons for firing Kathy Griffin from its annual New Year's Eve broadcast after Griffin appeared in a photo holding a replica of Trump's severed head. Griffin has been on the network for years. But as CNN has diversified its TV programming to keep pace with the ways TV audiences are consuming news updates, it has added many personalities outside of the realm of traditional TV news including Anthony Bourdain, Morgan Spurlock and W. Kamau Bell. Aslan was also in that mold.
But CNN's bread and butter is still its news coverage. And it has carefully maintained a center-focus amid right- and left-leaning primetime lineups on competitors Fox News Channel and MSNBC. Maintaining that brand proposition is integral to CNN's bottom line.
As CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker told THR in February: "You have to know who you're getting into business with. There is an implicit trust there, right? We're not going to interfere in your creative process, and you're not going embarrass us, and we're good."