'It still pays to be a bigot': CNN scorched by former contributor for hanging onto 'racist' Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum (CNN)

In a scorching column for the Daily Beast, former CNN contributor Wajahat Ali called out the cable news network for purging many of its political commentators at or near the end of the Donald Trump administration -- and replacing them with doctors and scientists -- and leaving former Republican Senator Rick Santorum in place despite his racist comments.

Ali, who admits that he enjoyed his time with the network despite getting four warnings about comments he made on-air, noted Santorum's comments made recently at a conservative conference where he stated that white European Christians "came [to America] and created a blank slate; we birthed a nation from nothing."

As Ali wrote, Santorum's "White Nationalist Guide to U.S. History conveniently omitted colonization, slavery, murder, and theft—and dismissed Native Americans with the claim that 'there isn't much Native American culture in American culture.'"

More importantly, the columnist argued, Santorum's comments are of the type that have ended the careers of other CNN on-air personalities -- but then they weren't white.

Case in point: the firing of religion expert Reza Aslan by CNN for comments he made about Trump while not on the air.

Speaking with Ali, Aslan explained, "CNN under [now former CEO] Jeff Zucker has always had a home for the Rick Santorums and Kayleigh McEnanys and Jeffrey Lords of the world, the latter of whom had to literally say 'Heil Hitler' (on Twitter) to get fired. It's been a far less welcoming place for people like me or Octavia Nasr or Marc Lamont Hill. You can draw your own conclusions as to why that is."

According to Ali, "It still pays to be a bigot" on CNN.

"I was utterly shocked that a former Republican presidential candidate who once compared homosexuality to bestiality and then landed a lucrative contract with CNN would say something so offensive! It's comforting to know that it still pays to be a bigot during a pandemic and recession," he sarcastically explained. "Santorum has also used his platform at CNN to complain about "cancel culture," the right wing's manufactured bogeyman that weaponizes fearmongering and fake victimhood to allow the powerful and privileged the freedom to continue to be cruel and hateful without accountability. But, sadly, he's still there, uncanceled. Of course, such hypocrisy by bad-faith actors is nothing new. They've in fact been practicing the ugly art by targeting and attempting to cancel commentators of color at CNN."

Pointing out that CNN has yet to comment on Santorum's remarks, Ali said it should come as no surprise that the network is remaining silent.

"The lesson from all these examples is crystal clear for most commentators of color: You can be a nativist, a bigot, an Islamophobe, a homophobe, a creep and a liar, but as long as you're good for the bottom line and you don't piss off the right-wing outrage mob, you are good for cable news," he wrote. "If you happen to be a white conservative, like Rick Santorum, you'll always have a blank state to birth new controversies."

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