UPDATE: CNN fires Sanchez after claim that Jews run news media
Television news anchor Rick Sanchez has been unceremoniously fired by CNN after remarks he made about Comedy Central host Jon Stewart and the status of Jewish people in media were broadcast on a talk radio program.
"Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company," a prepared statement from CNN declared on Friday night. "We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well."
The announcement comes after Sanchez sat for an interview with Sirius Satellite Radio's Pete Dominick, who asked for a response to the recent ribbing handed to Sanchez by comedian Jon Stewart. Sanchez called Stewart "a bigot" who's part of a "white, liberal establishment".
Challenged by Dominick on Stewart's Jewish ancestry, the former CNN host turned up his rhetoric.
"I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart," he asserted, "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."
The release of Sanchez from his post at CNN triggered critiques by colleagues at rival news network MSNBC and a bit of scathing mockery from HBO's iconoclastic liberal host Bill Maher.
Not even Keith Olbermann, who once employed Sanchez as his back-up host, had much sympathy to offer.
"Bye, Rick," he deadpanned during his "Worst Person" segment.
This video contains clips from MSNBC and HBO, as snipped by Mediaite.
A prior report follows...
CNN host Rick Sanchez has for years been the target of mockery by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart for his over-the-top stunts and occasional on-air flubs.
During an appearance with Sirius Satellite Radio's Pete Dominick on Thursday, however, the Cuban-born Sanchez struck back, calling Stewart a "bigot" with a "white, liberal establishment point of view" who "can’t relate to somebody who grew up poor."
When Dominick suggested that as a Jew, Stewart must have some sense of what it's like to be an oppressed minority, Sanchez just laughed sarcastically and replied, "He's such a minority. ... What, are you kidding?"
Sanchez went on to suggest that Jews are in control of all the television networks, including his own. "I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart," he asserted, "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."
Sanchez, whose family came to this country as exiles from Castro's Cuba when he was a toddler, has had a long and successful career in television news but has also been the frequent target of ridicule. In 2007, when he moved up from being a weekend anchor for CNN to take over the coveted 8 pm slot, the New York Observer noted that "at various times in his career at CNN, he has submerged himself in a car that was sinking underwater to show viewers how best to escape; been intentionally left at the top of a snow-covered mountain to convey the difficulties of surviving the elements; and been tasered at a Florida police academy."
The clip of Sanchez being tasered has been a particular Daily Show favorite, but Stewart has also taken advantage of other opportunities to mock the over-excitable Sanchez. Last March, for example, he ran a clip of CNN's coverage of a major earthquake in Chile and commented, "I just realized something. Rick Sanchez delivers the news like a guy at a party who's doing a lot of coke and traps you in a corner and explains REALLY INTENSELY how an ant is the strongest animal on earth."
Last week, Sanchez attempted to get back at Stewart in a small way by suggesting that he would completely ignore Stewart's role in the upcoming Comedy Central rallies "and give all the emphasis to Stephen Colbert because he's a true American."
"Whoop-de-doo," Colbert commented on his own program. "Wow. Rick Sanchez. The coveted Sanchez bump. That could get me tens of supporters. ... It's like I'm a freshman and I've just been befriended by a loser upper-classman. Now I have to eat lunch with him the whole year. "
All of the snubs and insults must have been preying on Sanchez's mind when he let loose during a 55 minute interview on Pete Dominick's satellite radio show. However, Dominick -- a stand-up comedian who served for five years as Colbert's warm-up act and occasionally did the same for Stewart -- was clearly taken aback. The uncomfortable exchange was chronicled at Dominick's blog by his older brother, Brian Dominick.
Sanchez began by complaining that when "elite, Northeast establishment liberals" like the "top brass" at CNN "look at a guy like me, they see a guy automatically who belongs in the second tier, and not the top tier."
"“I think to some extent Jon Stewart and Colbert are the same way," Sanchez continued. "I think Jon Stewart’s a bigot. ... I think he looks at the world through, his mom, who was a school teacher, and his dad, who was a physicist or something like that. Great. I’m so happy that he grew up in a suburban middle class New Jersey home with everything you could ever imagine."
When Dominick asked for an example of Stewart's bigotry, Sanchez initially replied, "That’s what happens when you watch yourself on his show every day, and all they ever do is call you stupid."
He then went on to charge that Stewart is bigoted against "anybody who’s different than you are, anybody who’s not from your frame of reference; anybody who doesn’t look and sound exactly like the people that you sound [like] and grew up with. ... He can’t relate to a guy like me. He can’t relate to a guy whose dad worked all his life. He can’t relate to somebody who grew up poor."
Sanchez eventually agreed to substitute the word "prejudiced" for "bigot," but he continued to insist that Stewart picks on him for trivial flubs in at attempt to balance his more substantial criticisms of Fox News. "This is the game they play," Sanchez explained. "'I just picked on Fox News, because they just had a bold-faced [sic] lie about something — damnit, that means I gotta find something on CNN. Oh, I know… wait, hold on, let me find, oh that Rick Sanchez, that little Puerto Rican guy. I’ll make fun of him.'"
When Dominick finally attempted to suggest that Jews like Stewart must know what it's like to be an oppressed minority, Sanchez responded by insisting that Jews are no longer subject to discrimination and 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."
It remains to be seen how CNN will respond to these remarks -- especially since Dominick himself has been working for the news network since last spring as an "offbeat reporter" and has just gotten his own late night weekend show. Mediaite covered the exchange on Friday morning, concluding, "We’ve reached out to CNN for a response. It is not hard to imagine there may be a significant response. It should also be noted that this is the end of week one for a new boss at CNN, Ken Jautz."
RAW STORY associate editor Stephen C. Webster contributed to this report.