CNN Dismisses Santorum After Botched Cleanup Of Remarks About Native Americans

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May 22, 2021 3:29 p.m.

CNN has ended its contract with commentator and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, weeks after he suggested that colonizers had “birthed a nation from nothing,” when they arrived on American soil.

Alison Rudnick, vice president for communications at the network, confirmed to TPM in an email that CNN had “parted ways,” with Santorum.

HuffPost first reported the news of Santorum’s departure on Saturday, which comes weeks after he made racist comments related to Native Americans and the nation’s founding to a room full of conservative youth last month.

“We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here,” Santorum said at a conference for the Young America’s Foundation last month. “I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

Responding to backlash, the former senator and unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate appeared on CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s primetime show earlier this month, and said that he “misspoke” when he made the brazen comments at the Standing Up For Faith & Freedom Conference.

“Just — just to be clear, what I was not saying is that Native American culture — I misspoke. I was saying — what I was talking about is, as you can see from the run-up, I was talking about the founding of our country,” Santorum said at the time.

CNN anchor Don Lemon criticized Santorum’s missed apology hours after the commentator’s appearance on Cuomo.

“I cannot believe the first words out of his mouth weren’t ‘I’m sorry. I said something ignorant, I need to learn about the history of this country.’ No contrition,” he said of Santorum at the time. 

Even before the comments about Native Americans, Santorum had a long history of incendiary remarks on the network since his first contract was announced in 2017. Santorum was also once a contributor at Fox News before launching a failed 2012 presidential bid.

A senior CNN executive reportedly told HuffPost on Saturday that leadership at the outlet hadn’t been “particularly satisfied” with Santorum’s attempt to explain the misstep during the Cuomo interview.

“None of the anchors wanted to book him,” the executive reportedly said. “So he was essentially benched anyway.”

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