Rebukes From Indian Country Swift And Forceful After CNN Commentator Rick Santorum's Racist Remarks

Apr 28, 2021

Voices across Indian Country are condemning CNN pundit and former Pennsylvania Republican U.S. senator Rick Santorum's remarks dismissing Native Americans and their culture as "nothing" at a conservative forum last week.

"We birthed a nation from nothing," Santorum told an audience at a Young America's Foundation conference on Friday. "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."

"Just when I think the country is making progress recognizing tribal sovereignty and the immeasurable contributions tribes make in this country, this happens," Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. wrote on Twitter. "I welcome CNN contributor Rick Santorum to Tahlequah ...  anytime he needs a refresher on Indian Country."

The Native American Journalists Association issued a statement calling for Santorum to be fired, and urging Indigenous journalists to refuse to work with CNN moving forward.

"With a lack of accountability or ethics around multiple racist and insensitive comments from CNN staff, the Native American Journalists Association urges its members to avoid working with the network to avoid harassment and racism," the statement reads. "NAJA also calls on advertisers, funders and journalism diversity organizations to withdraw their support from CNN indefinitely."

National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp was blunt in a statement.

"Before I correct the record, let me address Rick Santorum directly without mincing words: Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform," Sharp said. "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.  Make your choice. Do you stand with White Supremacists justifying Native American genocide, or do you stand with Native Americans?"

CNN has issued no comment or statement regarding Santorum's remarks.