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CNN Drops Rick Santorum After Dismissive Comments About Native Americans

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Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate, has been dropped from his role as a CNN political commentator amid controversy over recent remarks in which he seemed to erase the role of Native Americans in U.S. history.

Matt Dornic, head of strategic communications at CNN, confirmed in an email on Saturday that the network had “parted ways” with the former senator.

Mr. Santorum’s departure from CNN came after comments he made about Native Americans at a Young America’s Foundation event last month.

“We birthed a nation from nothing — I mean, there was nothing here,” Mr. Santorum said at the event. “I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

Days after the event, Mr. Santorum walked back his comments on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

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“I misspoke,” Mr. Santorum told the program’s host, Chris Cuomo. “I was talking about the founding of our country. I had given a long talk about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the ideas behind those, and that I was saying we sort of created that anew, if you will. And I was not trying to dismiss Native Americans.”

In a statement on Saturday, Mr. Santorum said: “When I signed on with CNN, I understood that I would be providing commentary that is not regularly heard by the typical CNN viewer. I greatly appreciate the opportunity CNN provided me over the past four years and I am committed to continuing the fight for our conservative principles and values.”

After Mr. Santorum’s comments were made public, many called for him to be dropped from the network, including Fawn R. Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians.

“It wasn’t a matter of if, but when,” Ms. Sharp said on Twitter on Saturday after Mr. Santorum’s departure from CNN was reported. “Justice is served.”

The National Congress of American Indians did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Before Mr. Santorum’s departure, Ms. Sharp said in a letter dated April 26 that any media organization should fire him or face a boycott from more than 500 tribal nations.

“Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” Ms. Sharp wrote in the letter. “Do you stand with white supremacists justifying Native American genocide, or do you stand with Native Americans?”

After Mr. Santorum’s comments in April, the Native American Journalists Association also called on CNN to dismiss the former senator and urged its members to avoid working with the network.

“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 association said in a statement. “NAJA also calls on advertisers, funders and journalism diversity organizations to withdraw their support from CNN indefinitely.”

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