Washington, DC – Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement in response to CNN’s decision to cancel the show “Believer” following Iranian American Reza Aslan’s use of an expletive in response to Trump’s repugnant reaction to the London terror attacks:
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“We are extremely disappointed with CNN’s decision to cancel Reza Aslan’s show, “Believer.” Aslan’s show promotes open dialogue, understanding, and religious tolerance. President Trump represents the very antithesis of those values, and he has consistently exploited human suffering to further his own political agenda against communities of color. Aslan was exercising his First Amendment right to express his personal feelings and opinions about the leader of our country; that freedom is what sets us apart from authoritarian countries.
“CNN’s decision raises concerns about a double standard when it comes to communities of color. Following national outrage – even from CNN anchor Don Lemon – the network refused to fire Jeffrey Lord, who referred to Trump as the Martin Luther King of healthcare. CNN similarly did not hesistate to hire Corey Lewandowski following allegations of assault, and refused to fire him when it was revealed that he was still receiving compensation from the Trump campaign.
“The same First Amendment which protects CNN’s freedom of press, also protects Reza Aslan’s right to use his own platform and his own Twitter account to express his own views of the President. CNN’s firing of Aslan for his personal opinions amounts to censorship of dissenting views about the president – plain and simple. The network expressed no hesitancy to widely broadcast President Trump’s use of expletives and did not fire contributors who repeated those expletives on air.
“Aslan’s firing seriously calls into question the sliding scale of morality apparently being utilized in the hiring or firing of on-air personalities by CNN. Silencing one of the only Iranian-American voices in American news media, an individual who utilizes his platform to advance peace, reconciliation, and understanding, further reveals that CNN values ratings over fact-finding and truth. NIAC and the Iranian-American community unapologetically stand behind Reza Aslan.”