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Fired Latino CNN Anchor Apologizes

HISPANIC
LATINO
MEXICAN
MINORITY
CIVIL RIGHTS
DISCRIMINATION
RACISM
DIVERSITY
LATINA
RACIAL EQUALITY
BIAS
EQUALITY

NEW YORK - Comedian Jon Stewart joked about Rick Sanchez on the "Daily Show" on Monday, saying, "If they fired him for making some intemperate statements and some banal Jew-baiting, I gotta tell you, I’m not even sure Rick Sanchez believed what he was saying." (Video)

Few Address Question as Sanchez Apologizes to Stewart

 

Ousted CNN anchor Rick Sanchez broke his silence on Wednesday about his firing, saying he had apologized to late-night comedian Jon Stewart "for my inartful comments from last week."

Those comments, made in an interview for a satellite radio show, excoriated Stewart for hailing from a middle-class background that Sanchez said made Stewart unable to "relate to a guy like me." Sanchez went on to answer a question about whether Stewart, as a Jew, should also be considered a member of an oppressed minority group.

The answer ricocheted first around the Internet and then in all other corners of the media. It was widely reported, inaccurately, that Sanchez said Jews "control" the news media, and accordingly, that his words were therefore anti-Semitic.

The fateful comment was, "I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.' "

It was the rare news organization that addressed the question of whether Jews are disproportionately represented at the top of media organizations, and rarer still, what difference it would make if they were.

"On October 4th, I had a very good conversation with Jon Stewart, and I had the opportunity to apologize for my inartful comments from last week. I sincerely extend this apology to anyone else whom I may have offended," Sanchez said in his statement, released through a South Florida publicist.

"As Jon was kind enough to note in his show Monday night, I am very much opposed to hate and intolerance, in any form, and I have frequently spoken out against prejudice. Despite what my tired and mangled words may have implied, they were never intended to suggest any sort of narrow-mindedness and should never have been made."

He went on to praise CNN.

" 'Here’s the deal,' Mr. Stewart said," according to Brian Stelter, reporting for the New York Times. " 'If CNN got rid of Rick Sanchez because they didn’t like his show, fine.' (He whispered, 'We weren’t that crazy about it either.' Mr. Sanchez was fodder for 'The Daily Show' more than 20 times.)

"He continued, 'But if they fired him for making some intemperate statements and some banal Jew-baiting, I gotta tell you, I’m not even sure Rick Sanchez believed what he was saying.' Mr. Stewart then queued up some classic Sanchez clips."

Howard Rosenberg, a former Los Angeles Times television critic who teaches news ethics at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and critical writing and a TV symposium at its School of Cinematic Arts, was asked about the comments on Jews Tuesday on NPR's "Tell Me More."

"Well, he never said — let's make sure that we quote him correctly. He never said 'controlled,' okay. He used other words. And I have to tell you, historically and even today, Jews have a voice in the media far out of proportion to our numbers," Rosenberg replied.

"That's not something to be ashamed of. I'm proud of it. It says a lot about us. For somebody to point that out is not problematic to me at all, nor is it problematic that he would call Jon Stewart a bigot. Jon Stewart is a public figure. If Jon Stewart can call Rick Sanchez an idiot, which he is as a matter of fact, Rick Sanchez has every right to call Jon Stewart a bigot."

Rosenberg went on to say of Sanchez, "I've been observing him since he was MSNBC. He's much more of an actor than a journalist. He's a vamper. He showboats. He gets his facts wrong. He speaks off the top of his head, frequently incorrectly. And to me, that spells out incompetence.

"And I suspect that he would not have been fired if he had big ratings."

In the Baltimore Sun, critic David Zurawik's ears told him that Sanchez had mentioned "ownership and control" by Jews. Having done 12 years of research into the topic for a book, "The Jews of Prime Time," and a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, Zurawick responded:

"Here is the once-upon-a-time truth that the lie told by Sanchez is based on. The three networks — NBC, CBS and ABC — were founded and run by Jewish broadcasting pioneers: David Sarnoff (NBC),Bill Paley (CBS) and Leonard Goldenson (ABC). Like the founders of the Hollywood film industry, they were hands-on businessman who built their companies virtually from scratch. And for a while, network TV was essentially a three-network operation with this trio as the big three."

Was that a bad thing? Two years ago, columnist Joel Stein wrote in the Los Angeles Times:

"I have never been so upset by a poll in my life. Only 22% of Americans now believe 'the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews,' down from nearly 50% in 1964. The Anti-Defamation League, which released the poll results last month, sees in these numbers a victory against stereotyping. Actually, it just shows how dumb America has gotten. Jews totally run Hollywood. . . . As a proud Jew, I want America to know about our accomplishment."

Tuesday on Slate.com, Brian Palmer tried to clarify the different assertions with a piece called "Do Jews Really Control the Media?"

"Maybe the movies, but not the news," Palmer wrote. "If Sanchez was referring to people in the television news business, he's wrong. Not one of the major television news operations — Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, or NBC News — is currently headed by a Jewish executive."

Some writers took a stab at explaining what difference those men's ethnicity makes.

"The intensity and ferocity and dementia of the claim transcend many normal political differences,"Todd Gitlin, a Columbia University professor of sociology and journalism, told Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald. "No sooner were the modern media born than we started hearing the accusation that not only do Jews control the media, but they do it invidiously, deploying newspapers and other media against other groups. It's one of the old arrows in the quiver of routine anti-Semitism."

But, as Zurawik noted about the three pioneering network executives who were Jewish, "one of the ironic truths I found in my research is that the three founders, out of self-consciousness about being Jewish and fear of finding disfavor for their companies with WASP-centric Madison Avenue, literally kept Jewish images off the air for almost two decades in prime-time."

In 2005, Laurel Leff wrote an entire book, "Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper," about how the Jewish-led New York Times "deliberately underreported the Nazi rise to power, the deportation and ghettoization of millions of Jews, and the implementation of the Final Solution," in the words of a review in the Jewish publication Shofar. "Clearly The Times made winning the war the first priority, while efforts to save Jews fell somewhere down the list of worthy causes."

Sanchez's bitterness was partly prompted by CNN's failure to award him the 8 p.m. slot that went to "Parker Spitzer," featuring the disgraced New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker, syndicated columnist for the Washington Post.

It debuted Monday, and by all accounts, it bombed.


Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education | 663 Thirteenth St., Suite 200, Oakland, CA 94612 

 


STORY TAGS: HISPANIC , LATINO , MEXICAN , MINORITY , CIVIL RIGHTS , DISCRIMINATION , RACISM , DIVERSITY , LATINA , RACIAL EQUALITY , BIAS , EQUALITY



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