CNN Drops Reza Aslan Following Anti-Trump Tweets

Reza Aslan
David Buchan/Variety/REX Shutterstock

CNN no longer believes in “Believer,” the non-fiction series it launched earlier this year with Reza Aslan, the Iranian-American author and religious scholar.

“CNN has decided to not move forward with production on the acquired series ‘Believer with Reza Aslan,'” the network said in a statement. “We wish Reza and his production team all the best. “

Aslan came under fire earlier this month after using profanity to describe President Donald Trump in the wake of remarks the President made about the terrorist attacks on London. In the tweet, Aslan called Trump “a piece of s—” and expressed dismay at Trump’s use of the tragedy to promote his desire for a so-called “travel ban” on certain kinds of people hailing from specific countries in the Middle East. The author later apologized, saying, “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.”

“Believer” would have entered a second season if it had been picked up.

“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,” said Aslan, in a prepared statement. ” 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 has had to grapple with other incidents of hosts and talent expressing political opinions. Late last month, the Time Warner-owned network said it would no longer feature comedienne Kathy Griffin as part of its annual New Year’s Eve broadcast, a day after pictured surfaced on social media of Griffin holding a bloody head resembling President Trump.

CNN has a significant interest in maintaining a middle-of-the-road stance to its viewers. Being non-partisan is at the root of the cable-news network’s brand, while rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC have allowed more partisan opinion in their prime-time programming lineup. That positioning has been sorely tested in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, as CNN’s reporters and producers set about to investigate sundry controversies surrounding the Commander-in-Chief and his administration. It is not unusual during a regular CNN programming day to see “New Day” anchor Chris Cuomo grilling a Trump advisor in the early morning or Jake Tapper offering wry and unvarnished commentary about White House policy on his late-afternoon program, “The Lead.”

In January, CNN conducted an internal brand survey, eager to find out whether remarks made by Trump suggesting CNN offered“fake news” had any sort of lasting impact on prospective viewers. “There has been no diminution whatsoever in the CNN brand,” Zucker said to reporters in February. “It’s as strong as it’s ever been. It’s incredibly trusted and we see no impact whatsoever in all of those attacks on the CNN brand.”

Aslan had been seen as a notable addition to the ranks of CNN’s various non-fiction series. He co-founded BoomGen Studios, a production shingle centered on content from and about the Middle East, in 2006. He served as a consulting producer on the HBO drama “The Leftovers” and has penned best-selling books such as “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” and “No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.” In episodes of “Believer,” Aslan examined various faiths and doctrines around the world, spending time with Orthodox Jews in Israel and a group of Indian cannibals who, in the series’ first episode, ate cooked human brain tissue.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 147

Leave a Reply

147 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Joyce Harris says:

    It’s good Reza Aslam was let go by CNN….he shows no respect for The Office of The Presidency of the United States of America. CNN needs to monitor a few of it’s News Commentators in my opinion, too. Professionalism must remain intact at CNN.

  2. Jay says:

    That makes 2 pieces of s**t.

  3. Ben says:

    He’s absolutely correct. Trump is a POS!

  4. There are no true words that Trump is a piece of shit. After the horrible behavior of the media, their perpetual lies, I would be very happy to see the media, smashed into a 1000 voices. Time to shut down the media’s tyranny of irresponsibility and propaganda. The media there their circus is why we have a deadbeat president. A curse on the nation. Break up the media and do it with a hammer.

    If Trump wasn’t such a sellout political whore, he would tackle trust busting, but he’s just a greedy coward working for himself and the other Oligarchs. A bully hired to bully the establishment, instead he’s bullying the people. No republican can be forgiven for the 100 or thousands of american who will die to appease these pigs with their tragic trumpcare abomination. These people and their disproven and corrupt dogma inflicted on the US must stop. It’s all voodoo bullshit and totally detached from reality.

    The politicians don’t represent the people and haven’t for decades. I think a reset is desperately needed to wipe out trump and the republican stink that is destroying the US with their disproven and toxic dogma.
    Trump is disgusting, republicans are disgusting and they will do even more damage to the US that the supreme assholes – Chaney and G.Bush.

  5. lsfein says:

    Having known Reza Aslan personally during his years at the University of Iowa, I can say that he was never an advocate for religious tolerance. His outrageous depictions of the most extreme forms of other religions on this CNN production is simply further proof of this. He is, and always has been, an apologist for radical Islam. He is part of the fifth column and it is only due to a moment of blind arrogance that he slipped up enough to be outed so publicly by his own words. Hopefully this is the last that we will see of him on a widespread public stage.

  6. Salty Old Vet says:

    Perhaps CNN’s action will begin a trend to more civil dialogue in the industry they represent. That could lead to some real progress in moving ahead with resolutions to the many situations confronting our leaders. Throwing darts from either side doesn’t promote meaningful dialogue and the kind of understanding that leads to wise and productive actions in the part of our leadership.

  7. Eat Brains says:

    CNN audience is composed of Zombies so featuring brain eating is an attempt to better connect to their core audience.

  8. Lisa says:

    So Bill Maher is still okay but this guy is gone?

  9. jsm1963 says:

    Don Lemon is a good guy, but he should really stick to reading a teleprompter. Also, CNN needs to stop hiring shameless apologists like Lord and Miller.

  10. Back in the early 1980’s Time magazine found allowing reporters and editors to turn news into editorials mixed with news was profitable. It was so profitable that Newsweek had to follow suite and even apologized to it’s readers for having to follow suite to survive. Now we have so called news that is not “Raw News” but designer news crafted for media profitability. The media always has done this to a lesser or greater extent but so called credible news outlets struggle to survive since avoiding titillation is not a survivable policy.

  11. David Cantrell says:

    I’m glad he’s gone I don’t think this country needs that type of voice, I don’t think his voice is good for this country it’s people like him and all the BS media that really hurts this country. Facts are facts and I don’t need any more than that I don’t understand why people have such a problem with truth and lie to get their side across whether it’s right or wrong, tired of all the lying and manipulation.

  12. M. M. Sands says:

    He’ll be missed. Believer was one of the few shows I actually watched anymore. I guess having an opinion AND a job are mutually exclusive in this country anymore. (He posted the Tweets as a private citizen, after all.)

  13. Camille says:

    I no longer watch CNN and the main reason, amongst others, is Don Lemon and his reporting of Trump. I am not interested in his opinions as I am perfectly capable of forming my own. All we should hear are the facts – without having them distorted. For some reason, Don seems to think he is better and more intelligent than everyone else and can say whatever he feels like. I am tired of incomplete and slanted news and no longer watch CNN, especially Don Lemon.

  14. Fred Beloit says:

    Goodbye, funny man.

  15. pfon71361 says:

    He seems to have an extremely low tolerance level for someone covering religion for a major news organization. Mr. Aslan appears to share President Trump’s disdain for political correctness while adding an evident abhorrence to civil discourse. Respectful criticism of those you disagree with is the hallmark of a mature adult. No one builds bridges by lobbing hand grenades.

  16. Rsher says:

    “CNN has a significant interest in maintaining a middle-of-the-road stance to its viewers.” This statment is s joke!

  17. Frank Malloy says:

    You’d think that someone who ate human brains would have half a brain.

  18. Why was there no outrage from liberals, CNN and the rest of the MSM, no insults and name calling from Reza Aslam directed at Obama, who used every mass shooting event as an opportunity to push for stricter gun control measures? Answer: The double standard is SOP at CNN and with the left in general and because all of the above mentioned are Obama/ Clinton sycophants, hypocrites and are butt-hurt sore losers who refuse to accept the fact that their plan to put Hillary Clinton into the White House backfired and now are doing everything possible to undermine and discredit this administration.

    • Tim says:

      Congratulations! You win the False Equivalency Award for June 10!

      The Pussygrabber of the United States (POTUS) is proud.

  19. Shirley Vickers says:

    I watched the program and found it quite enlightening. I hope they bring him back, he didn’t say anything that isn’t true!

    • Deb says:

      If him calling the President of the USA, or anyone a piece of sh*t is ok with you…YOU are part of the problem and so lost! I have never seen his show, i refuse to watch CNN because of all the twisted lies & constant bashing…pushing their own points of views/agenda (which by the way is NOT fair & unbiased journalism), so I can’t comment on that. BUT…the vulgar name calling and attitudes of some…constantly throwing *free speech* as an excuse for doing it…that I will! Just because one can say/do something…does not mean one should…knowing the difference shows one’s character, or lack of! This has become the norm from some and it’s not only wrong, but sad & embarrassing…and yes…people should reap the consequences of their actions especially when they use a public platform to be crude or to bully! People need to THINK before they speak…there are mature ways to voice their opinions!

      • 1IreneFlick3 says:

        Tim, when you have nothing to add but profanity and tired old news, you have nothing. I’m sorry you are so frightened by women that you are compelled to repost this vile stuff. Perhaps it’s time to seek some clinical help for your fears.

      • Tim says:

        Did you hear the POTUS’ (Pussygrabber of the United States) speeches on the campaign trail? If you voted for Trump you cannot clutch your pearls at Reza Aslan calling lying donny a piece of shit.

    • Sadie says:

      It’s all propaganda to make themselves look/sound PEACEFULL which the majority aren’t. I’ve heard it all before. Lived there and know what they are doing..

  20. VLatte says:

    Fraud and despicable human being. What is most pathetic is that it took his unhinged Trump tweets for CNN to fire him. CNN is chock full of these hatists whackjobs

  21. George Lewis says:

    Reza Aslan: yuck who doesn’t belong on TV. Good riddance.

  22. Alpha Vale says:

    Reza Aslan is a disingenuous snake. Good riddance.

  23. Andrew says:

    Although I’m definitely not a Trump fan in any way, calling the fraud named Reza Aslan a scholar of any type is insulting to real scholars. This guy has been exposed lying about his degrees and qualifications Several times in the past. Good Riddance!

  24. Kathleen Vrakas says:

    Really who hasn’t tweeted negative stuff about Comrade Drumpfy.

    • 1IreneFlick3 says:

      Most normal adults haven’t. Nor do they make up cutesy names for him. Perhaps a little self reflection on why your level of maturity is so low at this stage in your life would be a good idea.

    • Alan C says:

      I haven’t. Nor have I called the democratically elected President of our country a POS.

  25. I share the sentiments of many Hindus who have posted before me in pointing out the double standards of CNN. So in essence, CNN’s has an open door policy towards people and so called religious scholars who wish debase and disparage Hinduism but when a politician who happens to be Caucasian is insulted, the News network decides to cut off Reza. I love the double standards CNN, please continue on with your hypocrisy!

  26. Rakesh Chand says:

    “Believer”? “Religious Scholar”? Just recently in the same program this so called religious scholar insulted 1 billion Hindus and CNN allowed it to happen. Liberals, leftists, commies and Islam apologists should be aware of the wrath of the silent majority. We will take the fight to you and you will have nowhere to hide.

  27. txpatriot says:

    The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it does not provide for freedom from consequences.

    Nor does it guarantee a job. The First Amendment also protects freedom of association. CNN exercised that right.

    Lastly, the First Amendment limits government actions against speech, not private businesses.

  28. Rip says:

    You’d think a social commentator and scholar could come up with something more than “piece of s**t”! Amazing hoe intolerant liberals are. Oh, folr the days of decent dialogue. Have you ever noticed how alomost all invective comes from the left??? jUS’ SAYIN”!

  29. CNN non partisan, are you kidding me!

  30. Andrew Auletta says:

    Good. It’s about time some of the liberal whiners, and fake news reporters, lose their jobs. They have no problem taking out conservatives whose view points they don’t share.

  31. Stugatz says:

    eager to find out whether remarks made by Trump suggesting CNN offered“fake news” had any sort of lasting impact on prospective viewers. “There has been no diminution whatsoever in the CNN brand,” Zucker said , his delusion has been noted ! This was their really fake internal brand survey . Do these guys ever tell the thruth, they are known all over as fake news , even some liberals joke about it.

  32. Jan Van Dusen says:

    O.k., now I’m confused. I thought CNN was finally going to start holding Drumpf accountable instead of just breathlessly reporting whatever came out of his mouth. Does this mean CNN DOESN’T know Drumpf is a piece of excrement who is guilty of treason for collaborating with the Russians to acquire the Presidency THEIR way? I’m sorry this guy let a coupla words slip out that might not be safe for prime time, but really, it’s not like he’s saying something we aren’t all thinking, is it?

    • 1IreneFlick3 says:

      My gosh, how old are you? Does your mother know you’re on her computer writing inane comments?

    • Steve Johnson says:

      You have misspelled the name of OUR President. And in case you weren’t paying attention (which seems obvious), one of the many regressive delusions that were obliterated by the Comey hearings was the blatant lie that President Trump had any Russian influence during the election. You dislike the man, that’s obvious, but try not to let your intolerant hate cloud the actual facts.

  33. Stugatz says:

    He said CNN needs to protect its brand as an unbiased news outlet. Really fake news is unbiased. 100.000 thousand stories are anti Trump and 100.000 PRO HILLARY one slightly anti Hillary . LMAO

    • jsm1963 says:

      The notion that news organizations have to provide balanced coverage to all sides is a fallacy. Common sense should tell you that some events require more coverage. When Trump accuses Obama of bugging him, is CNN expected to pretend that something a Democrat did that day was equally as crazy? Ludicrous.

  34. bja021402 says:

    Very bad choice of words! Although I have not watched Mr. Aslan’s broadcast, he has a potential to reach an limitless number of households and more importantly minds. Shame on him for not controlling himself and spewing out more distasteful speech! I am a freedom loving USA citizen that respects other’s freedoms too but they are solely responsible for putting themselves in their beds and so must sleep in them too!

  35. SC says:

    Good riddance! This man is no scholar. His series was poorly produced with factual errors all over. Seemed like the purpose of the series was to trash beliefs other than his own faith. He is an apologist for his co-religionists. Media looks for young, intelligent, articulate open minded Muslim face. He is none of those things.

  36. Judy Edwards says:

    “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.” 😳

    Now that’s the funniest quote if the year!!!

  37. Lisa says:

    No coincidence here that CNN waited until today to do this. They were probably hoping they could sweep it under the rug with their dreams of comey burying trump on thrudaday. But that didn’t happen so now they had no choice. Pathetic what this network has become.

  38. Frank Anderson says:

    I won’t watch CNN anymore. His show brought me back to watch. Would watch Finding Jesus before. NeverMore

  39. MaryMitch says:

    Wow, lots of Russians commenting here.

  40. monamania says:

    And just like that, poof! He’s gone. I guess he didn’t learn from Kathy. Overreactions are the new plague: you react with a panic at something so repulsive and then you die.

  41. Ed says:

    He did not have the tolerance he preaches. Not if it does not fit his views. Such a fake!

  42. KD Newsom says:

    To Hell with you and your Hate !

  43. citcorp says:

    This idiot muslim terrorist, reza aslan is lucky to get away just with this.

  44. Serviceman says:

    CNN has abandoned any pretense of objectiveness long before the 2016 election in which they actively campaigned for Hillary even going so far as to give her answers to debate questions. This narrative that CNN is non partisan is a joke that nobody is buying.

  45. Julian Penrod says:

    A child was moved to launch a projectile at Trump’s limousine.
    A Secret Service agent declared her willingness to violate her agreed upon obligations by saying she wouldn’t “take a bullet” to protect Trump.
    Many Clinton supporters don’t mind engaging in what can be called the delusional act of continuing to insist that Trump has small hands.
    CNN went so far as to try to start the rumor that Trump is afraid of stairs, evidently to try to implant the idea in the public’s mind that Trump is necessarily irrational.
    A man burned down his church, then wrote, “Vote Trump”, on the side to try to make it look like Trump supporters were guilty.
    Kathy Griffin destroyed her reputation with the picture of Trump beheaded.
    Now Reza Aslan apparently seriously affecting his career out of a need to use profanity discussing Trump.
    It has long been a tenet of what has come to be known as “liberalism” to “do whatever you want”. As long as it doesn’t affect groups the Democratic Party is promising unconstitutional favoritism for their depraved whims, in exchange for votes. An outgrowth of this is the cultivating of the sentiment that each person should act as if only they have value, worth, rights. Behaving like a lunatic in condemning an unpopular president is fully in keeping with “liberals’” “ethics”. But, with respect to Trump, that has strayed into self destructive actions! Those raised on the idea of thinking of themselves first are now led to view trump with such psychotically unrestrained rage that they are engaging on actions that could harm them! They try to lie that things like the birth certificate issue were the effective equal of the treatment Trump has received, but, apparently, at no time did Republican Party supporting opponents of Obama engage in activities like those that Trump haters engage in. Actions that could destroy them! Self destructiveness is a clinical defining quality of mental sickness. The Trump haters are literally acting as if they are psychotic.

    • Jan Van Dusen says:

      This is a lie, fake news or whatever you call it. No one fed HRC the questions ahead of time. She PREPARED for the debates, a concept that is foreign to Drumpf. So even if he were a smart guy, which he is not, he would not have done well without preparing.

      • chiny says:

        CNN fired Donna Brazil for leaking the questions to Hilary. In any not even that could help her. She still lost the debates. Now who is deplorable.

      • John says:

        Sorry but Donna Brazile admitted it in an interview after the election.

  46. Larry Phelps says:

    Perhaps he should have used terms like “Crook’, “narcissist” “sociopath” “idiot” “embarrassment” “blowhard”….and the list goes on. I certainly agree with what Reza Aslan said, but his choice of words was unfortunate

  47. Trump42020 says:

    Time to go Mr. Aslan :) CNN is now the Comedy News Network (CNN). Not ‘Fake News’ but, ‘Omit Important Components’ of the news to benefit the leftist progressives. Sad :(. But hey–continue to support your employees salaries, mortgages, kids student loans at the expense of reporting the truth to the world! You’re a journalistic joke.

  48. Pat A. says:

    the anger show by many of the commenters is amazing! their ideology has so blinded them to any sort of reason, they end up acting just like this fool! unable to edit themselves they start calling people with different political views vulger names! it doesn’t matter that it may cost them their job or integrity, they just *have* to say it.

    the amazing part is that they really and truly believe they are righteous and everyone else is evil. the modern equivalent of the “church lady” from the 80’s SNL skit.

    • maroon says:

      Who goes around beating up people , because of their political views? It isn’t conservatives.
      Who goes around blowing and killing people because of their religious views? It isn’t Christians, Buddhists, or Hindus.

  49. Catherine Y DeLacee says:

    Sorry to learn of CNN’s decision to not pickup Reza Aslan’s ‘Believer’ which was an affirmation of people and perceived eccentricities. I had dropped CNN because it really didn’t evoke anything – anything to me. Programming on Aslan’s creative level will have to be sought elsewhere like PBS? Thank you Mr. Aslan for your project. I truly detest when good people are crucified for telling the truth.

    • Scott Davis says:

      Except, he wasnt crucified. And it wasn’t the truth. The whole network has problems with the truth.

  50. John Smith says:

    Reza Aslan, … religious scholar?
    LOL!
    You misspelled apologist for radical islam.

More TV News from Variety

Loading