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CNN Drops Rick Santorum

Calls to fire former senator followed his off-air remarks dismissive of Native American culture
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2021 4:20 PM CDT
CNN Drops Analyst Dismissive of Native American Culture
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a GOP presidential debate in South Carolina in 2016.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

(Newser) – Rick Santorum's interpretation of history has cost him a job. CNN has sent the senior political commentator on his way after remarks he made off the air last month about Native American culture, Variety reports. Speaking to students at a Fight for Religious Freedom seminar, Santorum said: "We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn't much Native American culture in American culture." Demands for the network to fire the former Republican senator followed from all corners. "Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust," said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, per the Hollywood Reporter.

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Santorum tried to talk his way out of it during an appearance on Chris Cuomo's show, saying he "was not trying to dismiss Native Americans," but failed. "I misspoke in this respect—I was talking about the founding and the principles embodied in the founding," Santorum said. "The way we treated Native Americans was horrific." Network executives thought he made it all worse and saw booking him on any of their shows as problematic. "I cannot believe the first words out of his mouth weren't 'I'm sorry,'" Don Lemon said on the air. Once they decided they wouldn't be booking Santorum anyway for some time, the decision to drop him followed. He'd been on the cable news network's payroll since 2017, and also had run for president. The Native American Journalists Association had cautioned Native American and Alaska Native reporters about working with CNN or applying for jobs there in light of Santorum's remarks. (Read more Rick Santorum stories.)

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