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CNN dropping Reza Aslan reveals what media gets wrong about objectivity

June 10, 2017 aurorax 0

Banning criticism is not objectivity.

CREDIT: Screenshot/ThinkProgress

CNN canceled Reza Aslan’s show Believer, days after he posted a tweet criticizing Trump. In firing Aslan, the media network revealed everything wrong with how it approaches so-called “objective” journalism.

CNN said on Friday that it “decided to not move forward with production” on Aslan’s Believer series, a show about religions around the world which premiered in March and which was already cleared for a second season.

In the tweet in question, which has since been deleted, Aslan called Trump “a piece of shit” and an “embarrassment to humankind” after the president once again pushed for his Muslim ban, following the attacks in London last week.

CREDIT: Screenshot/Twitter

Aslan later deleted the tweet and apologized for his choice of words and said he “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 should not have used a profanity to describe the President when responding to his shocking reaction to the #LondonAttacks. My statement:

 — @rezaaslan

Still, that wasn’t enough for CNN, who chose to cancel Aslan’s show less than a week later.

While one may disagree with the words Aslan chose to use in his tweet, those words are not as important as what Aslan was criticizing: namely, Trump’s call to ban an entire group of people from the country. In a series of tweets following a deadly attack in London, Trump chose not to express sympathy for the victims in London, but to once again push for his executive order suspending all refugee resettlement and banning people from six-Muslim majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the United States.

Tellingly, Trump called his executive order a travel ban in the tweets, despite earlier White House messaging that the order was “not a travel ban.” The wording led to outrage from many, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

Thanks for all the tags. Yes, we saw this.

 — @ACLU

The reason this wording is so important is because of Trump’s noted Islamophobia. During the campaign trail, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country — something his campaign once defined as including Muslim Americans living abroad. After the first version of Trump’s ban — which was later watered down and excluded Iraq from the list of targeted countries — his advisor Rudy Giulani admitted he told Trump this was simply the best way to do a Muslim ban “legally.” Trump’s admission on Twitter that the order is in fact a travel ban speaks to its true intent: his desire to prevent Muslims from entering the country. That’s why so many were outraged, like Aslan.

None of the London attackers would have been prevented from entering the United States under Trump’s order, but astonishingly, this isn’t the first time the White House has ignored the facts.

Adhering to a type of journalism that doesn’t allow for any criticism of Trump is astonishing — and reveals the true extent of CNN’s hypocrisy when it comes to objectivity. Despite firing Reza Aslan over a tweet, for example, the organization chose to employ former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after he was charged with simple battery. There was video and eyewitness corroboration that Lewandowski forcibly grabbed Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, but Lewandowski denied having even met her.

@MichelleFields you are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I have never even met you.

 — @CLewandowski_

Breitbart CEO and Pres Larry Solov statement: “We are disappointed in the campaign’s response

 — @Hadas_Gold

Moreover, Lewandowski was a commentator on CNN and at the same time receiving payments from the Trump campaign — making the whole ethics of his hiring seriously questionable.

CNN also previously suspended a reporter who expressed sympathy for refugees on Twitter, after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would halt the entry of refugees from Iraq and Syria.

There is another point that shouldn’t go unnoticed: Aslan’s show has been criticized for its content before. After an episode about an obscure Hindu sect that practices cannibalism, many Hindus criticized Aslan for portraying their faith in a sensationalist matter. University of San Francisco media studies professor Vamsee Juluri described the episode as “racist and dangerously anti-immigrant,” especially “at a time when the United States is living through a period of unprecedented concern and fear.”

But that’s not what was Aslan’s undoing; it was criticism of a president who wants to ban people of an entire religion from the country.

@AdrienneMahsa CNN was also more responsive to Trump fans’ fury over a tweet than it was to Hindu outcry over Believer’s srsly questionable Aghori episode.

 — @ayshabkhan

The cancellation of Aslan’s show also leads to larger questions about what we as a society consider acceptable. There was enough outrage over Aslan calling Trump a “piece of shit” for his desire to ban Muslims and refugees to lead to his firing. Meanwhile, Bill Maher, a public racist who joked about being a “house n****” on air last week, was simply told to apologize and still has a platform to share his sexist, racist, and bigoted views. Maher is hosted on HBO, while Aslan was on CNN, but the different standards here — and which voices are being amplified in our media — are still astounding.

Aslan, for his part, said that he hopes to find another platform for Believer’s “message of religious tolerance and exploration.”

My statement about the cancellation of #Believer

 — @rezaaslan

CNN dropping Reza Aslan reveals what media gets wrong about objectivity was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Conservatives want to restrict abortion so much they’ll endanger their own health care bill

June 10, 2017 aurorax 0

Senate Republicans are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flanked by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 6, 2017. CREDIT: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Republicans are caught between a rock and a hard place. If they decide to include anti-abortion language in their health care bill, it may be struck down, but if they take it out, anti-choice groups will oppose their bill. Conservatives’ intense desire to limit people’s access to abortion may undermine the success of — or completely set back — their own health care bill.

The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, who interprets Senate rules, told Republicans that a provision that stops people from using refundable tax credits for private insurance covering abortion may not be allowed, according to the Hill.

Republicans decided to push this legislation through using budget reconciliation, so they wouldn’t need any Democratic votes, but anti-abortion language does not fall under budgetary changes. This means they would be in violation of the Byrd Rule, which says that a bill’s language can’t be more about policy matters than how much money is being spent.

But if Republicans fail to include the language, influential anti-choice groups will oppose the repeal-and-replace bill they’ve worked months on and spent the majority of the Obama administration vowing to pass. Anti-choice groups, such as the Susan B Anthony List and Family Research Council, have pressured Senators to include prohibitions on abortion coverage and funding of Planned Parenthood in the health care bill, or they will oppose it. Some Republican Senate leaders similarly say that the bill can’t stray too far from the caucus’ stance on abortion, according to Politico.

Some Republicans are content to ignore the parliamentarian’s warning that the language will not be allowed. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told Politico, “There’s still not a clear ruling from the parliamentarian about the House Hyde language… I don’t think we go to contingencies or Plan Bs until we know that.”

“No taxpayer funding is consistent with the majority of our caucus,” Thune added.

David Christensen, vice president of government affairs at Family Research Council, a far-right conservative group, told the Hill, “If the Byrd Rule were to be an obstacle to ensuring the GOP replacement plan in the Senate does not subsidize abortion, that’s something that would be a serious problem for us and the pro-life community.”

Orrin Hatch said he believed that a bill without anti-choice language could possibly doom the bill. Republicans are looking for workarounds that could allow them to restrict abortion coverage and still make it through budget reconciliation.

Conservatives want to restrict abortion so much they’ll endanger their own health care bill was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.