July 30, 2013
Another view of Jesus, from the TV miniseries The Bible (Joe Alblas/AP Photo)
Another view of Jesus, from the television miniseries “The Bible” (Joe Alblas/Associated Press)

Lauren Green of FoxNews.com perpetrated an amazingly shallow and offensive interview of Reza Aslan, who was promoting his book about the historical Jesus of Nazareth. And we’re all talking about it today — by “we,” PostScript means the readers who have commented more than 4,500 times on The Erik Wemple Blog’s post calling for Fox to apologize.

Besides the fact that Green has a lot of trouble with the concept that people who disagree with her still get to write books, or that it is possible to write objectively about a religion that does not happen to be your own, there is also her apparent lack of curiosity about the actual contents of Aslan’s book. She doesn’t seem to be able to get past what seems to her to be the highly suspicious fact that a Muslim had the temerity to write a book about Jesus, who, by the way, also figures into Islam, and whom Aslan has studied for 20 years.

So, it might be good if someone hosting a segment called “Spirited Debate” were aware that there are debates on spiritual matters, and that genuine religious scholars have complicated things to say about these matters.

Right, commenters?

Right, says Mike North:

It’s very simple. Fox News believes that it’s inappropriate for Aslan to write about Jesus because he’s Muslim and must therefore be misinformed, regardless of his credentials and experience. Only right wing Christians are allowed to write misinformed pieces about Jesus. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that Aslan is encroaching on Fox’s turf.

Right, says Chords:

Yeah, her argument seemed to be “I know you’re biased because I totally am.”

Right, says larryclyons, via a prominent thinker from years past:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” — Isaac Asimov. Explains it all.

Actually, SpfldUser93 argues, even aside from the immediately giant book sales Aslan has reaped in the wake of this interview, he could hardly have had a more useful interview anyplace else:

One thing you could say for the interview is that it allows Mr. Aslan to address many of the criticisms of him and his book that are likely to have been heard by Ms. Green’s audience. So from that perspective, it was a good interview for Mr. Aslan. He came across as reasoned and intelligent and it makes me want to read his book as a Christian and openminded thinker.
Apology? Of all the obviously biased interviews that are done daily by many media outlets, why would this one warrant an apology? She challenged him from a biased perspective and he responded well.

Malacrianza agrees. This is the best book interview ever performed:

Anyone who goes on Fox News should already understand what type of interview they will have. Mr. Aslan should be sending them a “thank you” for how good they made him look.

And Seph Rodney thinks it is also great PR for Fox News, which, per Seph, aims to reassure people who think Muslims shouldn’t be writing books about Jesus anyway that they are probably right — and that every information source but Fox News would just try to change their minds:

How to get public discourse on the track of some sort of genuine curiosity and critical awareness that is not so pugilistic, not about beating the other person, but revealing the worth of the ideas behind the speaker? Clearly Fox news is NOT interested in ideas. They are interested in a kind of rhetorical Roman coliseum, where interviewees are mocked and degraded and taken down before an audience of cheering fans.
I don’t think that Fox owes Aslan an apology unless that apology is accompanied by an apology for what the company has done since its inception. It is following its founding ethos, which from what I can tell is to give huge media amplified voice to the hordes of Americans who feel they are being politically and socially marginalized for their religious, conservative, jingoistic politics.

In conclusion, this interview was the most perfect book interview ever devised by man–right down to the probably ineffective demand for an apology. High fives all around!