Netflix CEO On Censoring 'Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj': 'We're Not Trying To Do Truth To Power'

November 8th 2019

Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings confused and angered Netflix viewers when he revealed the reason why the streaming service pulled Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act episode criticizing the Saudi royal family.

When addressing the episode, Hastings told the audience at Wednesday's New York Times DealBook Conference, "We're not in the news business. We're not trying to do 'truth to power.'"

"...We can accomplish more by being entertainment and trying to influence the way people live, rather than being another news channel," he continued, according to Deadline.

He said that the Saudi government allows Netflix to show edgier series like Sex Education without edits, a statement he seemed to use as an example of how Netflix can serve audiences through entertainment. But he also said that there are things Netflix won't do, such as removing all of their LGBTQ content if a country opposed to LGBTQ rights gave them such a request.

In the pulled 2018 episode, Minhaj addressed the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the alleged involvement of Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Khashoggi's death. The Saudi government sent a letter to Netflix claiming that the episode violated Saudi Arabia's anti-cybercrime law, leading Netflix to take the episode down.

According to TV Line, Minhaj talked about the censorship of his show in a February episode, saying, "This isn't about just censoring one episode of a TV show. It's about the precedent." He also said that as tech companies grow, "they're going to keep running into more vague censorship laws--laws that can allow governments to pull any content at any time."

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Photo credit: Netflix

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