Netflix Boss Defends Censoring Hasan Minhaj Show After Saudi Protest: 'We're Not in the News Business'

Patriot Act Hasan Minhaj Netflix Censored Saudi Arabia

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings isn’t backing down from the streamer’s controversial decision to pull an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act that was critical of the Saudi royal family.

“We’re not in the news business,” Hastings told attendees at the New York Times Dealbook Conference in New York City on Wednesday, according to our sister site Variety. “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.”

Minhaj, an alum of The Daily Show, criticized Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman and his alleged involvement in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in an Patriot Act episode that debuted last year. But after receiving a letter from the Saudi government claiming that the episode violated the country’s anti-cybercrime law, Netflix pulled the episode from its service.

The Patriot Act host addressed the removal of the episode himself in a February episode: “This isn’t about just censoring one episode of a TV show. It’s about the precedent… Because as tech companies keep expanding, they’re going to keep running into more vague censorship laws — laws that can allow governments to pull any content at any time.” And he’ll have a chance to respond to Hastings soon enough: Patriot Act returns with new episodes this Sunday.