UPDATED with Aslan statement: Cable news network CNN says it will not move forward on another season of the Believer docu-series, days after host Reza Aslan’s incendiary tweet about President Donald Trump.
“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,” a network rep said in a statement about the network’s decision on Season 2.
In his own, long statement [read full statement at end of post] Aslan said he is “disappointed” in CNN’s decision but recognizes “CNN needs to protect its brand as an unbiased news outlet.” Aslan on Sunday had apologized for his tweet blasting President Donald Trump after Trump had tweeted a plug for his travel ban shortly after word broke out of an attack on the London Bridge. Aslan’s tweet:
“This piece of sh*t is not just an embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency. He’s an embarrassment to humankind,” Aslan tweeted, to be more specific.
In a statement issued last Sunday, Aslan says he “should have used better language”:
When in the first few minutes of the terror attack in London, the President of the United states tweeted about his travel ban, I lost my cool and responded to him in a derogatory fashion. That’s not like me. 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.
At that time, CNN had issued a statement making sure everyone knows Aslan is not a CNN employee “but does host a series on the network. We are pleased that he has apologized for his tweets. That kind of discourse is never appropriate.”
Aslan is the second piece of CNN talent to lose their gig over a reax to Trump. Last week CNN announced it had dumped Kathy Griffin from its New Year’s Eve franchise.
“I sincerely apologize. I am just now seeing the reaction of these images,” Griffin said in a video apology hours after her grisly “gag” caused her to trend worldwide on Twitter. “I crossed the line…. I went way too far, ” Griffin said. “The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people…I get it,” she added.
Too late. CNN announced it had severed its relationship with Griffin on its annual New Year’s Eve program and Page Six reported show star Anderson Cooper already has begun lobbying to have pal Andy Cohen replace Griffin.
Aslan’s full statement:
Obviously I am very disappointed in this decision. ‘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. 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.