Near the end of Reza Aslan's strange, 10-minute television exchange with Fox News, the author of "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth," gives voice to a thought that's entered the mind of many an author while being interviewed: "I'm afraid it seems like you haven't read my book."
The interview, now circulating widely on social media sites, has helped propel the book to No. 1 on the Amazon bestseller list Monday.
Aslan is a Muslim scholar of religion and a one-time Christian convert who's just published a popular book about the life of Jesus. This earned him the wrath of those who wage a daily crusade against the "liberal media"— Fox News. Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green tried to give Aslan the proverbial third degree Friday on the show "Spirited Debate," only to see Aslan patiently and deftly parry her attempts to corner him as an angry Muslim.
"Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?" BuzzFeed asks in the headline above its posted video of said interview.
In the interview, Green says, "You are a Muslim. Why did you write about Jesus?"
Aslan answers this, and many other of Green's questions, in a deliberately slow tone, as if he were being interviewed by the not-very-well-informed editor of a high school newspaper. "I am a professor of religions," he says. "It's what I do for a living."
Over at the New Republic, Marc Tracy has a piece on how BuzzFeed helped stoke the ensuing Internet "buzz," for lack of a better word, following Fox News' own, stumbling attempt to create a controversy.
"Fox News, which like U.S. Steel is vertically integrated, ginned up 'controversy' over the book by publishing an article claiming that the 'liberal media' routinely fails to disclose that Aslan is a 'devout Muslim,' and then reported on the (again, auto-fabricated) 'controversy' by having host Lauren Green confront him with this," Tracy wrote. "Having established Aslan's Muslim-ness, Green conspiratorially asks, "It still begs the question: Why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?"
Aslan notes that his Muslim faith is mentioned on the second page of his book.