CNN ends contract with Rick Santorum after dismissive comments about Native Americans

Ric Santorum
Rick Santorum appearing on CNN Debate Night on September 29, 2020.

  • Rick Santorum lost his contract at CNN after dismissing the role of Native Americans in US history, per HuffPo.
  • “There isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” he said at an event last month.
  • The comments provoked a wave of outrage from Indigenous groups and organizations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

CNN has terminated its contract with senior political commentator Rick Santorum following statements he made in April that dismissed the role of Native Americans in US history, according to The Huffington Post.

Santorum, a former two-term GOP senator from Pennsylvania and former presidential candidate, provoked a wave of outrage after saying that there was “nothing” in America before colonizers arrived.

“We birthed a nation from nothing,” he said at a Young America’s Foundation last month. “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.”

He added: “It was born of the people who came here pursuing religious liberty to practice their faith, to live as they ought to live, and have the freedom to do so. Religious liberty. Those are the two bulwarks of America. Faith and freedom. It is what makes America unique in the world.”

Indigenous-led groups including the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and IllumiNative have spent weeks calling for Santorum’s ouster from CNN over his remarks.

On Saturday, a CNN senior executive told the Huffington Post that the network “quietly ended its contract with Santorum this week.”

The executive, who remained anonymous, said that the decision to boot Santorum came when he made an appearance on “Cuomo Prime Time” with host Chris Cuomo and “blew it” with his explanation of the comments.

Read more: Being a Black Republican is exhausting. But Sen. Tim Scott and other big-name conservatives say they don’t need anyone’s pity or platitudes.

After this incident, the executive told the Huffington Post that “nobody” stood up to vouch him to remain at the network.

“Leadership wasn’t particularly satisfied with that appearance,” the executive added. “None of the anchors wanted to book him. So he was essentially benched anyway.”

During his appearance on Cuomo’s show, Santorum contended that he had “misspoke” and said his remarks were “taken out of context,” but did not apologize for the cultural erasure of Native Americans in his comments.

“I think after that appearance, it was pretty clear we couldn’t use him again,” the executive told the Huffington Post.

A CNN spokesman also confirmed with the Huffington Post that the network ended its relationship with the former senator this week.

For weeks, the NCAI sought to publicly pressure CNN to remove Santorum from network, threatening a boycott.

“Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” said NCAI president Fawn Sharp in a statement last month. “Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust. Any mainstream media organization should fire him or face a boycott from more than 500 tribal nations and our allies from across the country and worldwide.”

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