By now, you've no doubt watched the video and seen the headlines: On Friday, Fox News' Lauren Green aggressively questioned religious scholar Reza Aslan over why he, a Muslim, would choose to write a book about Jesus Christ. During the length of the increasingly absurd 10-minute segment, that implied criticism quickly became direct with Green accusing the author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth of being incapable of providing an unbiased academic account because of his faith, and even wrongly claiming that Aslan had gone to great lengths to hide the fact he is Muslim. The Internet's response was not kind. BuzzFeed, one of the first to spot the clip, spoke for the masses: “Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?” Andrew Kaczynski asked in a headline that needed no answer. The interview was “absolutely demented,” said New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum. “This may just be the single most cringe-worthy, embarrassing interview” in Fox News history, wrote my colleague Daniel Politi.
Green's almost blindingly illogical and offensive line of questioning, though, seems to have obscured the fact that Aslan appears to have arrived ready to do battle. This wasn't a case of an academic being blindsided by a TV anchor. If anything, it was Aslan who had the upper hand at the outset. The day before the interview, FoxNews.com had published pastor John S. Dickerson's screed accusing the mainstream media of helping Aslan hide the fact that he is Muslim. Shortly after, a series of one-star reviews began to appear on Zealot's Amazon page. Aslan had heard the criticism and came ready to smack it down. And—thankfully!—he did.