The Most Damning Part of That Reza Aslan Fox News Interview You’ve Been Hearing About

On Friday, author and religious scholar Reza Aslan appeared on Fox News. The interview has been getting some attention over the weekend, and it isn’t hard to understand why once you start watching it. The whole thing is worth a look:

Aslan is promoting his recently released nonfiction book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which examines Jesus Christ’s legacy as a political insurgent. The book has generated some controversy and accusations of faith-based bias.

There are a lot of things wrong with the 10-minute FoxNews.com Live interview (conducted by Fox religion correspondent Lauren Green), none of which are perpetrated by Aslan. But the most damning part is toward the end, when Green says the following after several minutes of implying that Aslan’s own religious beliefs compromise the objectivity of his work:

I believe that you’ve been on several programs and have never disclosed that you were a Muslim.

(And in the interest of “full disclosure”—a term Green uses to justify her supposed outing of Aslan as a covert Muslim—I have interviewed Aslan on the subject of Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi, a man Aslan said belonged “in an insane asylum.” I failed to disclose in that blog post that Aslan is a Muslim; I did, however, note that he is of Iranian descent. Mother Jones has also chatted with Aslan here.)

Green was echoing this piece published on FoxNews.com that claims the “liberal media” has failed to mention that Aslan is of the Islamic faith. Now, forget for a moment that Aslan’s personal religious beliefs and practices aren’t actually relevant to this conversation. (It’s about as relevant as asking why Green doesn’t use the beginning of every Fox segment she hosts to disclose that she was once the third runner-up in the 1985 Miss America competition.) The internet is chock-full of interviews with, articles written about, and works penned by Reza Aslan that “disclose” that he is a Muslim scholar. This is not a fact that he is shy about.

Furthermore, it is a spraining stretch to label Aslan as a hackish Muslim scholar devoid of objective reasoning. Whether you agree or disagree with him on major points of historical or religious debate, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that he is a thoughtful and humane thinker. For instance, here’s footage of him debating atheist author and neuroscientist Sam Harris in 2007 (in which Aslan does, incidentally, at one point take a dig at Fox News’ coverage of Muslims):

In the grand (or not-so-grand, even) scheme of things, this Aslan episode on Fox isn’t a landmark moment in anything. It was a poorly conducted interview, of which there are many. It was a moment in which a Fox News employee acted ridiculously while talking to or about Muslims, and that isn’t exactly new. But it does do more to highlight the widespread Google problem of right-wing hysteria: So much humiliation could be avoided if certain pundits and media personalities just devoted 10 seconds of their day to fiddling with this website—particularly if they want to learn about the folks they interview on highly-rated channels and websites.

I’ve reached out to Lauren Green for comment. I’ll update if she gets back to me.


If you buy a book using the Bookshop link on this page, a small share of the proceeds supports our journalism.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate