Video of My CNN Appearance

There’s video of me and Jesse Galef on CNN!

The transcript is here.

A few things to note:

1) I didn’t know I was sitting at an angle. Awkward…

2) No one told me about the image behind me. I knew there was a green screen, but I wasn’t expecting that…

3) When I’ve appeared on FOX in the past, I spend several minutes before going on air having makeup put on me. At CNN, no makeup. What’s up with that?

Just sayin’.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • M J Shepherd

    I think you look much better without makeup.

    Just saying.

    • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

       Maybe it just means that Fox made him up to look worse than he normally does.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Maybe Fox doesn’t know how to do makeup on brown people.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293001320 Diana Winters

          or they try to lighten up the brown people so as not to offend their viewers.

    • Skizzle

       Yeah, there’s just something unsettling about the picture with makeup…he looks claymated or something.

      Anyways, congratulations on looking cool on tv as always, and congrats on the weight loss.  You’re looking rather svelte in the CNN photo.

      • Guest

         I agree – I was going to say “fake” rather than claymated, but yours is a better term.

        Also, I’m not at all certain I’d have realized it was the same person in the two pics without being told.  I know I’m bad with faces, but that’s more than a little sad.

    • Pisk_A_Dausen

      Isn’t the main point of TV makeup to keep the sharp light from making people look “flat”? (It’s a word that describes the effect well, but to me it didn’t make sense until I once saw an example of a “worst-case scenario” of a makeup-less face on camera with full lighting. Creepy puppet face argh!)

      For some reason, makeup had the opposite effect on Hemant, he looks much flatter in the FOX pic. Could be the light too, though. FOX: full-on, even light all over. Extra flattening. CNN: more clearly lit on one side, from above, emphasizing cheekbones and creating a fade across the forehead that gives more visual depth.

      Still odd that they didn’t mark the eyes in any way, though. (Or is that just theatre?) Maybe your eyelashes were judged and found to be sufficient. ;)

      /ex multimedia production geek

    • Michael

      Probably just means CNN have better cameras that don’t need makeup to help them get a good image of you.

    • Yukimi

      You actually look a bit creepy in the fox one imho….

  • Aaronlane

    That’s a still image that says “I will kick your puny god’s ass.” 

  • DavidM

    “We’re not being indoctrinated…” – unless that’s just part of the indoctrination that you’ve imbibed! Hmmm…..

    • Patterrssonn

      Perhaps you’ve been indoctrinated to think Hennants been indoctrinated. Oh no! Maybe I’ve been indoctrinated to think you’ve been indoctrinated to think Hennants been indoctrinated into thinking he’s not been indoctrinated! Aaaarrrrggghhhh!

      • DavidM

        Ha ha! Very good, you’re learning to question your assumptions. More of that from Hemant would be wonderful.

        • Patterrssonn

          There you go, the beauty of atheism, always questioning assumptions.

          • DavidM

            But not that one! (The assumption that atheists are particularly good at questioning their own assumptions – although I guess you just missed that part – you need to be able to question YOUR OWN assumptions. That’s the only way to get from here to intellectual honesty.)

            • Patterrssonn

              What makes you assume that I’m making an assumption?

              • DavidM

                The patent obviousness of the fact.

                • Patterrssonn

                  There you go makIng assumptions again.

                • DavidM

                  So you think you could plausibly deny my assertion? …Or what is the point of your labeling it an assumption?

                • Patterrssonn

                  So you make assertions and I make assumptions. Thanks for clearing that up.

                • DavidM

                  Never said that. Anyway, it was nice chatting.

                • Patterrssonn

                  Probably some other DavidM.

                • DavidM

                  I’m going to assume there is only one DavidM.

                • Patterrssonn

                  We can only hope.

  • http://twitter.com/_mikeweber Mike Weber

    Shame on you Hemant, stirring up trouble by talking about things… :)

  • http://twitter.com/dougphilips Doug Philips

    Great job…both of you. Excellent representation of the secular voice. 

  • Annie

    I think the green screen photo would put you in the Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue… or maybe somewhere else along the river?

  • SecularSAHM

    I think you did AMAZING! 

  • Tom_Nightingale

    4:40 – boat drives out of Hemant’s ear

    Seriously, I’m always happy when one of us atheists brings up morality and that theism does not have a monopoly on it.  The number one thing on young people’s minds who are thinking about atheism is “will I still be a good person if I don’t believe anymore?”  You guys are helping them start to believe.

    Great job Jesse and Hemant!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1272000050 Naomi Prettyman

    You both did wonderfully! And you look better without makeup ;)

  • Jeff Akston

    That background looks very Parisian.   Maybe they just throw France behind anyone who’s an atheist

    • Pascale Laviolette

      HAHA…

  • D Ronquillo

    It means you look FINE without the makeup, sweetie.
    Don’t worry, I’m 77 years old!
    And that young man in the middle?  He is beautiful and handsome.
    Both of you have fantastic smiles!
    That’s what I call “looking good without god!”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tina-Loving/100001333023378 Tina Loving

    Great job guys.

  • Lesle Alvarado

    Definitely better without pancake makeup. Next thought, I was irritated by the host ending the segment with, “Stirring up trouble…”  I thought he did a decent job of keeping his opinion our of the matter until that.  I think if he had ended by saying you and Jesse were “Making people think…” that would have been more appropriate.

  • Alex

    Isn’t it obvious? You’re getting better looking as you get older.

    Oh man, I hate you… ;-)

  • Ibis3

    Great job, both of you. Just one thing–a missed opportunity (around 3:10) to counteract the whole secularism=degeneration myth that the religious right likes to make. It would have been nice to make a point that there’s a strong tradition of secularism in the US, that it was founded as the first secular nation, and there’s nothing to fear in reviving that spirit.

  • carriep63

    “Stirring up trouble” – wow!  Part of me laughed at that last line and part of me was offended on your behalf.  You and Jesse did a wonderful job!  Unlike some other activists, you both seem very friendly, approachable, and laid back.  Not scary atheists at all!

    • flyb

       Yes, it’s unfortunate that Don Lemon said that, especially when Jesse had just finished talking about the stigmas that atheists have to endure. Don is just reinforcing negative stereotypes about atheists “stirring up trouble” wherever they go, those bastards. We know he was kidding, but still…

      • DavidM

        “We know he was kidding, but still…” LOL! Right, but still, if you’re really insecure, you’ll manage to get partly offended anyway. You go girl! Hoo-rah atheism!

  • dangeroustalk

    You guys did fine and coming from me, that’s a complement because I tend to be hard on my fellow atheists when they make tv appearances. I am particularly glad that Hemant countered the indoctrination claim. So good job guys. 

  • jose

    Wow, the comparison picture really shows how makeup can turn a normal human look into something similar to Pin.

    • Fargofan

      Who/what is that freaky guy?!

      • Fargofan

        I meant Pin.

  • Ronlawhouston

    CNN makes you look like an edgey bad ass.  Fox makes you look kinda like a Michael Jackson wanna be.  Just one man’s opinion, though.

  • Karen

    Good Job, Hemant and Jesse!  Also, if I had children, I would totally want them taught by somebody like you, Hemant…

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    lol oh Hement, you troublemaker, encouraging thinking.

    • Blanc_Slate

      They said that about Socrates too. That he was “corrupting the youth,” with freethinking and unhindered introspection I presume. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    Maybe Don Lemon would have been more interested if you mentioned how atheist groups fight for gay rights?

  • Bevidence

    Important thing when interviewed is to remember to represent to the best of your ability and not let anyone force you to be less then your best, be confident and speak reason.  We love you for it!  (Why are we talking about looks here? Seems so superficial – people must watch too much “beautiful people” tv shows – sigh)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    Is that Wacker Drive in the background? An autobot once stood there…
    I love when they do fake backgrounds like that; like when they interview Sarah Palin in front of a wilderness background, like she just lives in the middle of the mountains or something.

  • Lee Miller

    De Boat!  De Boat!  It go into your ear!  De Boat!

    Seriously nice job, and you look fine. 

  • JamesEmery

    Haha, ‘smiling mexigay’ ;)

    Seriously, though, I completely didn’t expect that voice from you.  Also, yes, I think you DO look better without the makeup (at least, not FOX’s makeup!).

  • DavidM

    LEMON: …And people are being indoctrinated into secularism.MEHTA: No, they’re not being indoctrinated. When they go off to college or even like Jesse said in high school, we’re asking them to think and to question their faith and to doubt their faith and that Pew Survey said that’s what they’re starting to do more of. LOL! So no, they’re not being indoctrinated into secularism, they’re just being encouraged to doubt their faith. Great distinction, Hemant. LOL! If you were being indoctrinated into secularism, isn’t it possible you wouldn’t even know it?! Isn’t that the nature of indoctrination – it doesn’t present itself as such? Otherwise it wouldn’t be effective. Think about it. Are you really rationally superior, or is that just what you’ve been ‘indoctrinated’ to believe? 

    • Leo Buzalsky

       “Are you really rationally superior?”

      Hmmm…I’m not really sure where Hemant either said or implied that.  You seem to be trying to set up an arrogant atheist strawman.  Nice try.

      I’m more curious as to why you seem to be implying that doubting and indoctrination aren’t that much of a distinction.  I realize that the doubting is toward religious belief and not toward secularism (which doesn’t seem to make much sense anyway…how does one doubt indifference?), but shouldn’t indoctrination discourage doubt of any kind to be effective?  Furthermore, the fact that the doubting is directed at religion doesn’t make sense even if one were indoctrinated into secularism.  Shouldn’t indoctrination just claim that the opposing view is wrong to be effective?  Shouldn’t it just be a “We’re right, they’re wrong, don’t question/doubt/argue!” approach when it comes to indoctrination?

      To be blunt, you seem to be more interested in playing mind games — getting us to question our own mentality (as if many of us don’t already!) — than having an honest discussion.

      • DavidM

        Is it a straw man? I guess we can disagree about that. It’s certainly not a universally accurate characterization, and it’s not an exclusively atheist problem, but it’s very often accurate in my experience of atheists.

         You ask some good questions. Indoctrination is effected on the basis of power structures. I have a good deal of experience of university classrooms, mostly in the seats and a bit at the front of the class, and if the smart person at the front of the class chooses to present a one-sided view of some theory or reality (e.g., religion, God), or if he or she makes false claims about religion (or science or whatever), indoctrination can and does happen. It’s a matter of power and trust and it can happen in a Church or in a secular classroom and it doesn’t matter what the particular message is – indoctrination is certainly possible.

        I think your assertion about mind games is silly, but if you choose to believe it… oh well.

    • sam

      “Hey kids, think for yourselves!” is the OPPOSITE of indoctrination.

      “Hey kids, think exactly the way I tell you or you will be tortured forever!” is, um … well, you know.

    • sam

      “Hey kids, think for yourselves!” is the OPPOSITE of indoctrination.

      “Hey kids, think exactly the way I tell you or you will be tortured forever!” is, um … well, you know.

      • DavidM

        “Hey kids, think for yourselves!” is NOT the OPPOSITE of indoctrination. You have to look at a much broader context of claims and power structures in order to assess whether a statement like this is or is not part of some program of indoctrination.
        “Hey kids, think exactly the way I tell you or you will be tortured forever!” is, um … well, you know, a pretty silly caricature which demonstrates the deplorable shallowness of your apparently-all-too-prevalent-among-atheists view of religion – which in fact suggests that there is some kind of serious indoctrination or group-think going on in your camp, despite, naturally, your failure to realize it.

  • DavidM

    How about this one: “People can fact-check their pastor now because of the internet!” Wow – and of course before there came to be all of this wonderfully reliable information available on the internet, there was no way for people to do any fact checking! Hemant, I know you’re pretty young, but surely you’re aware that there are more and usually better ways to check facts than just the internet? I sure hope you know this!

    • Leo Buzalsky

       Yeah, I would guess Hemant knows that.  Now, I’m pretty young, too, so I suppose you can be age biased against me if you want, but do you not think that the Internet helps make information more readily available?   While I sense sarcasm in your remark about “wonderfully reliable information,” do you not think there is any reliable information on the Internet?  Do you not think us young people have any capability of filtering the reliable from the unreliable?  And while I may agree that some of those other ways are “better” in regards to reliability, I won’t necessarily agree that they are better in regards to accessibility.  I sure hope you know this!

      • DavidM

        Age-biased? Don’t be silly, Leo. Young people are likely to have little experience of a time before the internet. That’s a fact, not a bias against young people. Of course there is plenty of reliable information on the internet, but obviously also plenty of unreliable information. Many people, young and old, in fact have very poor skills when it comes to filtering the reliable from the unreliable. Do you think that is not the case? (FYI, I’m fairly young myself, I like to think.)

    • Leo Buzalsky

       Oh, also note that Hemant said people can fact check what their pastor says IN CHURCH.  Now, by “in church” did he mean that’s where the pastor says things or did he mean that’s where people can do their fact checking?  With smart phones, it could have been the later.  I’d like to see your other ways be capable of that!

      • DavidM

        Now that is a creative way to parse it that I didn’t think of, but for good reason, wouldn’t you agree? Or could the search for truth (or doubt) really be about the instantaneousness of the info, as opposed to careful research and reasoning?

  • sam

    Wouldn’t the best answer to “Why don’t you believe?” be “Because there is no evidence.”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Farris/1306329023 Mark Farris

    You didn’t need makeup, the off center view  I thought was actually very good, too bad the background was a repetitious recorded loop. Would have been so much better if it were live or a continuous recorded shot. It was after all a good backdrop. Great job.

  • Whqjhejwkq

    It looks like you have only one collar “button downed”.

  • DavidM

    BTW, I would certainly agree that the internet is an excellent research tool, but if Hemant seriously wants to suggest that young people are becoming better informed about religion than previous generations because of the internet, well that’s nice wishful thinking, but where’s the evidence? Seriously, don’t you claim to reject belief in God because you think there is no evidence? I think you really need to learn to question your own rational-informed-atheist self-image more.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Which part (or both) do you disagree with?  Young people better informed about religion, or the internet being the primary cause.

      I don’t know of any studies that show that young people today are any more informed about religion.  But I don’t see how you could argue that today young people have much easier access to a much wider array of information source.

      Not that that does anything to combat confirmation bias of course.  Just the other day I saw a youtube video that proved that the earth didn’t move, including lots of slow motion shots of toy helicopters taking off from moving trucks.

      • DavidM

        I disagree with the first part, and so also the second. If young people are not better informed about religion, obviously they’re not better informed about it b/c of the internet. Obviously some probably are, but in general? Not likely, it seems to me. Like you, I know of no studies, and I bet Hemant didn’t either. It’s a groundless conjecture that just happens to fit his atheist narrative – confirmation bias if you want to call it that.


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