By Mario Carter
Until recently, I had never completely figured out why I had such little respect for CNN. Is it their unwillingness to stay relevant in a constantly evolving media market? Well, that’s part of the reason, but it doesn’t completely explain my utter lack of contempt for the “Most Respected Name in News.” Could it be their monumentally feeble primetime lineup? Once again, that’s part of the reason, but that still does not explain why I would rather watch a test pattern more than “Parker Spitzer”. But I think I may have figured it out now: they’re pathetic.
That is the only appropriate word that I can think of that could accurately describe their latest act.
Several weeks ago, CNN fired their midday anchor Rick Sanchez after he made comments on a radio show that bordered on anti-Semitic. Specifically, he called Daily Show star Jon Stewart a “bigot,” because of the numerous jokes that he’s made at Sanchez’s expense and likened the late night comedian to what he described as, “elite, Northeast establishment liberals.” And while Sanchez veered into dangerous territory with the, “Northeast establishment liberals” line which seemed to be code for “New York Jew,” his comments would probably have fallen under the radar. But when he said, “I’m telling you that everybody from CNN is a lot like Stewart and a lot of the people who run all the networks are all like Stewart. And to imply that the people in this country who are Jewish are an oppressed minority.” Yeah, he not only crossed the line, he went so far that the line could no longer be seen. Within days of making those comments, his six year career at CNN came to an embarrassing end.
Obviously, we can all agree that what he said was abhorrent. He besmirched an entire religion by playing into the conspiratorial stereotype of the all–powerful Jewish media, ruthlessly controlling everything from behind closed doors. Not only did he feed into crude stereotypes, he unfairly accused Jon Stewart of bigotry without offering even the slightest bit of proof. Stewart pokes fun at everybody. If he can be considered a bigot for needling Sanchez thesn I suppose Stewart must also be the world’s most self-loathing Jew because I have never seen anyone come close to viciously mocking Joe Lieberman the way he has.
Yet, even with all of Sanchez’s distasteful comments, I do not believe that he was speaking from a place of hatred for God’s chosen people, but rather from a place of anger. He said this out of a deep-seated resentment of not being properly recognized for his journalistic talents. In essence, Sanchez believed that he was always going to be what he deemed as a, “second tier guy.”
This internal anger is what caused Sanchez to lash out at Stewart and his now former employers. In his view, the constant showing of clips portraying Sanchez to be a dolt was intended to diminish his journalistic credibility. He understandably did not appreciate being typecast by a high-ranking CNN executive as just another, “John Quinones,” who is an ABC reporter. Over time, the jokes from Stewart and the condescension from his superiors began to make him feel devalued.
It is not hard to understand why Sanchez felt this way. Yes, he did have a position as an anchor but his show was mainly midafternoon filler, so he was expendable. As a person of color in a white dominated industry, I can only imagine the numerous experiences of racism that he has faced. And considering the abuse that he has suffered, coupled with what he perceived as taunts from some late night comedian, it was only a matter of time before he snapped.
However, I do not believe that his comments warranted a firing. While they were clearly inappropriate and indefensible, he did not deserve to be given his walking papers before even being given a chance to explain himself. He should have been given an opportunity to publicly express contrition for what he said. To Sanchez’s credit, he personally apologized to Stewart not long after he made those thoughtless comments, which Stewart very graciously accepted.
But considering all of the truly detestable people that CNN has hired over the years, Rick Sanchez was the absolute least of them. Could Rick Sanchez really be worse than Eric Erickson, who said about Barack Obama winning the Nobel Prize, “I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota.” When they hired Glenn Beck to work for their sister network, Headline News, it didn’t bother them that he referred to the mostly black Hurricane Katrina evacuees as, “scumbags.” And despite the controversy that erupted from another one of their other conservative analysts Bill Bennett who said, “if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down,” CNN did not see fit to terminate his contract. It’s good to know that a white conservative at CNN can openly discuss the innate criminality of blacks and receive nary an iota of criticism from management whatsoever but if a person of color in a legitimate moment of anguish, says something inappropriate, they are to be dismissed before given a moment’s notice.
The outright double-standards are as cheap as their third place ratings.