Rick Santorum claims he was ‘savaged for telling truth’ after CNN firing


The former Republican senator Rick Santorum has claimed he was “savaged for telling the truth” after remarks on Native Americans that led to his firing as CNN contributor.

His host on Monday night, Sean Hannity, asked: “I assume the application is in at Fox [News] or no?”

Santorum, 63, was a senator from Pennsylvania between 1995 and 2007 and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and 2016. A conservative Catholic, strongly anti-abortion, he attracted support on the pre-Trump hard right of the party.

In April, Santorum told the Young Americans Foundation the US was founded on “Judeo-Christian values”, and that there was “nothing” in north America before Europeans colonists arrived.

“We came here and created a blank slate,” he said. “We birthed a nation from nothing. 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.”

The comments met with outrage.

Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee, called them “hot garbage”. Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, 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.”

Santorum refused to apologise. Calls for his firing multiplied. Last week, CNN did so.

On Fox News, Santorum said: “What I said was not at all disparaging towards Native Americans. What I was talking about is the founding of the United States of America and that Native Americans did not have a role in the founding of our country.

“Now you can say that’s a bad thing or a good thing, or the way we treated Native Americans was bad, but I was giving a talk to a group of young people talking about the founding principles of religious liberty, and how important it was to the immigrants who came here to found this country.”

Santorum also said “intolerance of the left is really the issue here and the cancel culture that is flowing from it”.

“Cancel culture”, the supposed silencing of anyone with politically incorrect views, has become a shibboleth of the US right.

Santorum also said CNN “has a right to fire me if they don’t like what I’m saying or what I am doing. I have no animus. I appreciate the opportunity that they gave me, but it shows that the left is intolerant.”

Among a plethora of statements which have prompted charges of intolerance, Santorum has compared gay marriage to 9/11 and accused the women’s health provider Planned Parenthood of being “founded on the eugenics movement, founded on racism”.

After his firing by CNN, the veteran reporter and Yale lecturer Walter Shapiro said on Twitter: “Can I offer a small proposal? Fire all the paid politicians on cable and replace them with journalists and columnists. Go back to the old era when reporters questioned former senators and didn’t see them as cable news colleagues.”

In response to Hannity’s remark about applying to work for Fox News, Santorum said he was “just taking a little time off to regroup here a little bit and see what opportunities come my way”.

He has bounced back before. In 2012 Donald Trump, then described as “a Mitt Romney supporter”, asked: “Rick Santorum was a sitting senator who, in re-election, lost by 19 points [actually 18]. Then he goes out and says, ‘Oh, OK, I just lost by the biggest margin in history, now I’m going to run for president.’

“Tell me, how does that work?”





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