A Strong Argument for Reading Books Before Bashing Them

Is it in the best traditions of journalism to criticize a book you’ve never read? Some reporters say, “Sure!” The anchor in question is Lauren Green, who, aside from holding a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University, also moonlights as Mike Huckabee’s keyboarding buddy (fun!). Green hosted religious scholar Reza Aslan on her online show Friday to discuss his latest work Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Almost immediately, she questioned Aslan’s ability  to write about Jesus because he is Muslim. Watch the interview below:

To recap:

Green: “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”

Aslan: “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”

And yet, that wasn’t enough for Green:

Green: “It still begs the question though, why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?”

Aslan: “Because it’s my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That’s what I do for a living, actually.”

Finally Green accuses Aslan of failing to mention his religion while promoting his book. His reply?

“Ma’am, the second page of my book says I’m a Muslim. Every single interview I have ever done or TV or in print says I’m a Muslim.”

And that, folks, is why one must read a book in order to criticize it. That concludes our lesson on How To Be a Competent Human Being 101. In the meantime, do your homework. 


  • Martin Wagner

    It’s always hilarious to watch Faux News faceplanting like this. Oh yeah, they’re fairly imbalanced, all right. 😀

    • BarrysHypocrisy

      You want to watch faceplanting, tune into Chris Matthews or Rachael Maddow. Look up “lying moron” in the dictionary and you’ll find pictures of those 2 guys.

      • Martin Wagner

        One of those guys is a woman. Perhaps you didn’t recognize yourself in the second picture.

  • Denise

    I agree with having to read a book before making a judgment The reporter, and I use that term loosely, was just trying to stir something up I don’t think Fox News is actually news.

    • BarrysHypocrisy

      I’ll bet you’re an MSNBC fan though……

      • Curtis Blanton

        You don’t have to be anyones fan. Media bias is media bias. Both sides do it. this reporter is an low IQ’d brain dead idiot. It’s that plan and simple.

      • Jer RM

        Hum, and obliviously you have an agenda. Only the fanatic fringe disrespect a person’s desire of what they wish to be called, in this case our current President. More to the point, the posts here rip into a reporter that also seemed to have an agenda and did not follow good journalistic practices, rather than defend her or her station, you rip into others. Pretty sad.

        • BarrysHypocrisy

          Did I rip into this person? They made an observation about Fox News and I made an observation about MSNBC. Did you even read my post?

          And what pray-tell is my “agenda”? Since you seem to know so much about me.

          • Jason Skinner

            just as a wild guess, I would say your agenda is right-wing trolling. so far u seem to fit that bill pretty snugly.

          • Jer RM

            Rip (as news outlets you hate, the President), assumptions (assuming
            others watch MSNBC when they disagree with your outlook), look to your
            posts below. The article above is not about MSNBC, but about Fox
            reporter Lauren Green. Maybe you need to go back and read it. Agenda:
            Hating anything not Fox News, Trolling. And yes I read the 1st three posts you made. But I absolutely do not want to know you or anything about you.
            You have set yourself in stone, it would not surprise me if you jump to
            conclusions and refuse to believe in anything BUT what Fox news tells
            you to believe. No I do not know you, but I know the type. Good Day.

      • Jason Skinner

        How is that a relevant question in the first place? This article and interview was about an idiotic Fox news employee. She’s a moron, and Fox has an obvious bias and has for years. They frequently throw up people who know nothing about subjects and call them experts, have them give inane opinions about things they know nothing about and call it news. This is not even in question, anyone can see this is true. Automatically assuming someone needs to be a MSN fan in order to feel this way is an idiotic logical fallacy. Further, even if denise is a MSN fan and admits to such, it still does not change the fact that this newscaster is an idiot and that Fox does this sort of thing frequently, so again, I would ask why you even feel the need to make such a stupid comment.

  • Amy

    That woman should be fired. It’s incredibly clear she had no idea what was going on during that interview.

  • http://twitter.com/lazypadawan lazypadawan

    Most people who do interviews on t.v. don’t read the book, they get a rundown or summary from an assistant who did.

  • cary0

    Another example of Faux — I mean Fox — news showing its aversion to facts. Green quoted from reviews and op-eds from Christian bigots who best at re-writing history. Sort of the blind leading the blind.

  • BluTea

    People who look to Fox “News” for book recommendations are intellectually lazy and deserve what they get. Of course, they get what they want which is support for their pre critical viewpoints

    • BarrysHypocrisy

      I’ll bet you run out and buy every “Worship Obama” book that MSNBC promotes……

      • BluTea


        You could not pay me to watch MSNBC. It is the extreme liberal counterpoint to Fox and is also not a reliable source of unbiased reporting. My number one read is a magazine – The Economist – which is produced in the UK and comes from a free market perspective that is roughly equivalent to what the US Republican party supported about 30 years ago. Right now I’m reading “Bull by The Horns” by Sheila Bair. Bair is a lifelong Kansas Republican whom Bush appointed to chair the FDIC and the book covers her experiences during the great meltdown and global financial crisis. For TV News – my main go to is the PBS Newshour. I also watch ABC and CNN from time to time for news.

      • Jason Skinner

        wow, I only needed to read a bit further to find I was exactly right, you are a right-wing troll.

  • dogsofgawd

    Ah, well, considering the source, we have to cut slack to Faux News for…absolutely nothing.

  • Laurie Lynn

    Well considering “No Child Left Behind” has existed in one form or another since 1965 This doesn’t surprise me. You would think as a journalist they would know how to read. Maybe they don’t. The illiteracy rate in America is deplorable but yet we keep moving children/people along in the education system. I think their argument for reviewing the book completely discredits them professionally.

  • John Kirby Hanson

    Pretty obvious most all of you dis-tractors of fox , & Ms Green plus the author , have not listen to the interview

    • Jerome Haltom

      You know the interview is right at the top of this page, right? Pretty sure most of us have. :0

  • http://mimiatthemovies.blogspot.com/ Mimi Fink

    Beware. This is Fox news and this so-called journalist is, obviously uneducated!

  • Ian Williams

    When someone’s last name is “Aslan” one does not question his ability to write about Jesus

    • Elizabeth

      For the win!

    • Dara-Lynn Baker

      Brilliant. This literally made me laugh. out. loud.

  • Chan

    This should be titled, “A Strong Argument for Knowing Someone’s Academic Background Before Questioning their Religion.” Seriously, does someone need to be Christian (or another religion) to write on Jesus (or another religious figure)? That’s like saying, “I like French food” (or any type of food). “But you’re not French, so why do you like French food?” (or any other nationality and its food). Sheesh, what a “religiosist” the reporter is…

  • Debbie Amedure-Sierra

    I like how he repeats ‘I am a SCHOLAR of RELIGIONS’ many times, nice and slowly, to try to make the idiot interviewing him understand. Alas, she does not . . .

  • jburke

    I always wonder why people criticize something they haven’t read. The author is obviously a very well educated man who is very smart. I have not read the book, but I feel that if he has a right to write it and that his religion will bring a different insight to the subject of Jesus. People do the same thing with fiction writers. They do not believe that writers can use their minds to write about things outside of their experience. Men can write from the point of view of a woman, and vice versa. Sometimes they do a very good job, other times it is terrible – just depends on the skill of the writer.

  • Risto Säntti

    Fox represents ignorance in the deepest meaning of the word.

  • Crystal Leair Bartley

    If I were a teacher in a debate class, I would say that the author won the debate, he really made the reporter look foolish. Nothing like showing that brains will always triumph!

  • Nikkolo

    Well, Green did not look the smartest in the room and the quality of Fox news is reknown, HOWEVER if you check Aslan on Twitter you ll see his true colors. He’s a shame for Muslims or at least not “a well educated man”. He is rude, vulgar and, as you can see also in the Fox interview, quite arrogant. A “scholar” with “PhDs in religionzzzz” does not use “shit” and “ass” every other line. Especially if he wants to write about Jesus. What a joke! I hope he is just behaving like a moron to draw attention on his book and sell it, otherwise he is just an imbecil.

  • Paul Long

    She also misused “begs the question.”

    • DJ

      At this point, I’d be more surprised if a reporter used the phrase accurately. TBH, the only time I’ve ever seen it used correctly was in my undergrad philosophy class. There’s the argument to be made that at this point the misuse of the phrase is actually so common that it’s become correct.

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