Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Update: Fox News awkward interview turns good news for Reza Aslan

Last Friday, Fox News's online show Spirited Debate hosted by Lauren Green conducted an interview with religious scholar Reza Aslan, a professor of religion, about his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

Surprisingly, Aslan subsequently spent the entire interview defending his right of a religious scholar who happened to be a Muslim to write a historical book about Jesus.

The interview is now been described by many viewers  as unfair, unprofessional and bias. This is because Green had interviewed a professor from a university affiliated with Southern Baptists but never asked him why he wrote a book about Islam two years earlier.

Near the end of the interview, Green accused Aslan of hiding an inherent bias by not disclosing his faith background while discussing Christianity in his new book as well as in other interviews. Aslan immediately countered that the second page of his book mentioned he was Muslim, and cited the countless television and print interviews he has done.

During the interview Green, in an attempt to explain why she thought Aslan, a Muslim, shouldn't have been writing a book about Christianity, she also said, "Why would a Democrat want to promote democracy by writing about a Republican?"

In a related development, Piers Morgan tonight interviewed Reza Aslan to react to his interview with Fox News Online that went viral over the weekend. Aslan said he had an idea of what was coming, but remarked that he was “kind of embarrassed” as he sat there listening to questions about why a Muslim would have any standing to write a book about Jesus.

He added that normally he finds it “distasteful” for academics to talk at length about their biographies, but found it necessary to patiently repeat to Green call into question his background and his faith when questioning him about his book Zealot, focusing on the life of Jesus Christ.

However, according to the New York Times Aslan now has an additional 5,000 Twitter followers. On Monday, Random House, Mr. Aslan’s publisher, said the interview had clearly helped the book: in two days, sales increased 35 percent.

On Friday, “Zealot” was in the No. 8 spot on Amazon.com, the nation’s biggest seller of books; by Sunday, it had hit No. 1.

Random House is rushing to meet the surge in demand for the book. On Monday, the publisher ordered 50,000 copies, bringing the total to 150,000 copies in print by the end of the week.

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