As Hasan Minhaj dissects 'emotional truth' scandal, New Yorker stands 'by our story'

A man with dark black hair and facial hair in an olive green jacket and white shirt posing in front of a blue backdrop
Comedian Hasan Minhaj fired back at the New Yorker a month after he faced backlash for embellishing his comedy material. (Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)
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Comedian Hasan Minhaj's public feud with the New Yorker just got the "Patriot Act" treatment.

The former "Daily Show" correspondent shared a 20-minute video dissecting a September article from the New Yorker that claimed he exaggerated parts of his stand-up comedy specials. In the video — published by the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday — Minhaj said, "I'm not a psycho, but this New Yorker article definitely makes me look like one."

"It was so needlessly misleading, not just about my stand-up, but also about me as a person," he added.

Read more: Hasan Minhaj says his stand-up stories are embellished but rooted in 'emotional truth.' Because that's comedy

Like his searing "Patriot Act" series, the comedian's video relied on email receipts and interview recordings to bolster his defense. At the center of the New Yorker's September article and Thursday's video were three stories inspired by Minhaj's own life: a prom rejection, an encounter with an FBI informant and an anthrax scare.

"The New Yorker implied that I made it all up," he said.

In the video, Minhaj explains how he adapted his first-hand accounts of racism and Islamophobia for his stand-up specials. He also compared excerpts from the New Yorker article with direct quotes from his conversation with the reporter.

Recalling how the New Yorker wrote about Minhaj being rejected for prom because of his race, he alleges the magazine "misled readers" and left them thinking he "made up a racist incident."

Read more: Opinion: What's wilder than Hasan Minhaj's tales? The FBI surveillance my Muslim community actually did endure

"I was an open book. I sat down in good faith," he continued. "They had my testimony and four years of correspondence backed up with receipts."

In the video Minhaj apologizes for "embellishing the story" of his anthrax scare and explained that he fabricated the story of rushing his daughter to the hospital to "put the audience in the same shock and fear" he and wife, Beena, experienced at the time.

"In my work as a storytelling comedian I assumed that the lines of truth and fiction were allowed to be a bit more blurry," he explained.

Toward the end of the video, Minhaj said the New Yorker article made him seem like "some sort of unrepentive liar" and offered the controversial "emotional truth" quote in full context. He also said he will be "more thoughtful" about sticking to fact in his material.

Read more: Whoopi Goldberg backs Hasan Minhaj exaggerating stories for a laugh: ‘That’s what we do’

Minhaj added: "Look, behind this article is a proper f— psycho."

In a statement shared with The Times on Thursday, a spokesperson for the New Yorker said, "Hasan Minhaj confirms in this video that he selectively presents information and embellishes to make a point: exactly what we reported."

The statement continues: "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."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.