CNN urged to fire Rick Santorum for Native American remarks

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The president of the National Congress of American Indians called Rick Santorum an "unhinged and embarrassing racist."

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Former US senator and CNN contributor Rick Santorum is under fire for “racist” comments critics said debased Native American culture, prompting calls for his immediate termination.

Santorum, 62, told the conservative Young America’s Foundation on Friday that “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” claiming the United States has been largely unchanged since the country was born out of “Judeo-Christian” values.

“We came here and created a blank slate,” the former senator from Pennsylvania said. “We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly there’s isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

Santorum said the nation was “born of the people who came here pursuing religious liberty,” insisting that America was founded on faith and freedom.

“It is what makes America unique in the world,” Santorum said in the viral clip.

Blowback to the comments was swift, with at least two Native American organizations calling for Santorum to be yanked off the air.

The president of the National Congress of American Indians called Rick Santorum an “unhinged and embarrassing racist.”
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in a statement. “Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust.”

CNN has not yet commented on Rick Santorum's (center) remarks.
CNN has not yet commented on Rick Santorum’s (center) remarks.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Sharp called on CNN to fire Santorum or potentially face a boycott from more than 500 tribal nations and its allies worldwide.

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“Make your choice,” Sharp said. “Do you stand with white supremacists justifying Native American genocide, or do you stand with Native Americans?”

The Native American Journalists Association, meanwhile, is advising Native American reporters to not work with CNN or apply to the network in the aftermath of Santorum’s comments. The group also claims CNN labeled Native American voters as “something else” during its Election Night coverage and has refused to apologize.

“NAJA also calls on advertisers, funders and journalism diversity organizations to withdraw their support from CNN indefinitely,” the organization said.

A message seeking comment from CNN was not immediately returned early Tuesday.

Rick Santorum (left) stands alongside Mike Huckabee and former President Donald Trump.
Rick Santorum (left) stands alongside Mike Huckabee and former President Donald Trump.
Al Drago/CQ Roll Call

Santorum, a former two-time GOP presidential candidate who served in the Senate from 1995 through 2007, joined CNN as a senior political commentator in February 2017. He told USA Today he did not mean to dismiss the impact or importance of Native Americans with his comments.

“I had no intention of minimizing or in any way devaluing Native American culture,” Santorum told the newspaper in a statement.

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