The comedian initially issued a statement following the story’s publication on Sept. 15, and now, he's shared a detailed 20-minute-long response via a YouTube video. He explains that he felt particularly slighted by the profile because he felt like it called his public persona into question, saying in the video that it’s taken him this long to respond due to world events and him still “processing” the critique.
“With everything that’s happening in the world, I’m aware even talking about this now feels so trivial,” Minhaj said in the video. “But being accused of ‘faking racism’ is not trivial. It’s very serious, and it demands an explanation.”
In the video, Minhaj discusses three stories in-depth, which were also spotlighted by The New Yorker: his prom date’s mom rejecting him because of the color of his skin, his interactions with undercover law who were surveilling the Muslim community in his hometown, and an incident involving fake anthrax and his child.
He then went on to say that the article might lead readers to wonder if he’s a “psycho” or “con artist” who “uses fake racism and Islamophobia to advance his career.” He continued, “Because after reading that article, I would also think that.”
“I just want to say to anyone who felt betrayed or hurt by my stand-up, I am sorry," he said. "I made artistic choices to express myself and drive home larger issues affecting me and my community, and I feel horrible that I let people down.”
He called the article “needlessly misleading” both about his “stand-up, but also about me as a person. The truth is, racism, FBI surveillance, and the threats to my family happened. And I said this on the record.”
Minaj goes on to clear up some of what he thought was "misleading,' saying he did embellish some details of the aforementioned stories during his Homecoming King special because he thought his stand-up work permitted more artistic license.
“I thought I had two different expectations built into my work: my work as a storytelling comedian and my work as a political comedian, where facts always come first,” he added. “That is why the fact-checking on Patriot Act was extremely rigorous. The fact-checking in my congressional testimony, deeply rigorous. … But in my work as a storytelling comedian, I assumed the lines between truth and fiction were allowed to be a bit more blurry."
In the video, Minaj pulled receipts in the form of audio clips of his conversation with writer Clare Malone, and shared that he sent emails and “corroborating evidence” to her, but that they still “misled readers.”
He ends the video by playing the audio of an entire quote, rather than what the New Yorker chose to print, which was, “He told me, ‘The emotional truth is first. The factual truth is secondary.'”
The entire quote provides more context—and Minhaj pushed for the whole thing to be included: “With [The Daily Show or Patriot Act], the truth comes first. Comedy sometimes comes second to make the infotainment, the sugar on the medicine," he said. "In this [stand-up], the emotional truth is first, the factual truth is secondary.”
The New Yorker issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, in response to Minhaj’s video.
“Hasan Minhaj confirms in this video that he selectively presents information and embellishes to make a point: exactly what we reported," the statement reads. "Our piece, which includes Minhaj’s perspective at length, was carefully reported and fact-checked. It is based on interviews with more than twenty people, including former Patriot Act and Daily Show staffers; members of Minhaj’s security team; and people who have been the subject of his standup work, including the former F.B.I. informant 'Brother Eric' and the woman at the center of his prom-rejection story. We stand by our story.”