A Contrite Rick Sanchez Returns to Diversity Issue
Appearing on ABC, the ousted CNN anchor said his recent comments about Jews and comedian Jon Stewart were wrong, but decried the lack of black and brown faces on prime-time cable news shows. Plus: Tamron Hall's new show, and a Sherrod debacle update.
Ousted CNN anchor Rick Sanchez appeared on ABC's “Good Morning America” on Friday and said his controversial comments last week were wrong and offensive, but added that “I went into the interview with a chip on my shoulder” because of the lack of Hispanics, Asian Americans or African Americans hosting prime-time news shows on the mainstream cable networks.
“I was looking at the landscape,” Sanchez told host George Stephanopoulos. “I was wrong to scapegoat Jon Stewart.”
Stephanopoulos played a clip of Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes saying that Sanchez might “someday” be hired back by CNN or one of Time Warner's other channels. Sanchez said he would go back in a minute because CNN “is a wonderful, wonderful organization. CNN didn't screw up. Rick Sanchez screwed up,” he said.
In a Sept. 30 interview for a satellite radio show, Sanchez 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, shouldn't also be considered a member of an oppressed minority group.
His response: “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.' “ Many reported the response as anti-Semitic.
“First of all, that's not what I meant,” Sanchez told Stephanopoulos. “It was wrong, and I shouldn't have been so careless. What I was feeling got in the way of what I should have said.”
He said he was fatigued and impatient, explaining that “I was working 14 hour days for two and a half months” and that “my daughter had a softball game that I desperately wanted to go to.”
Stephanopoulos parried with Sanchez when the former CNN anchor said, “I was a little bit angry, and look, I will be honest with you. I hope you don't mind my saying, but I'm just going to go ahead and say it. If you look right now in our media, in prime time, there's not a single Hispanic, not a single African American.”
Stephanopoulos: Liz Vargas.
Sanchez: In prime time hosting a prime time show, in the United States.
Sanchez: There's that “20/20.” I'm talking about newscasts in cable news.
Stephanopoulos: Liz Vargas
Sanchez: That's true, that's fair. I'm referring to cable newscasts. Straight newscasts, not magazine shows. There's not a single Hispanic, a single Asian American or a single African American.
Stephanopoulos: Connie Chung did have a show at CNN.
Sanchez: There's a lot of people who've had shows a little bit in the past. I'm talking about right now, though, George. And I think it's significant, you know, that we do have some representation.
Stephanopoulos: So you do think you're a (victim) of prejudice.
Sanchez: Well, it's interesting the way you put that. No. I was wrong to say that. And I was wrong to scapegoat Jon Stewart.
I was filling a little bit put out. And I was feeling a little sensitive. And I was looking at the landscape and I was seeing that. And I externalized the problem and I was putting it on Jon Stewart's shoulders, and I was wrong to do that.
Sanchez went on to praise Stewart, saying that when he called the comedian, Sanchez asked why he was always singled out.
“Because you're the one I like,” he said Stewart told him.
*Ed Koch, Huffington Post: On the Firing of Rick Sanchez by CNN
*Steve Krakauer, Mediaite: Rick Sanchez Tells Mediaite: “I Got Greedy And I Got Mad And I Got In Trouble”
*Ruben Navarrette, Washington Post Writers Group: Rick Sanchez's Burden
*Hunter Walker, the Wrap: Fox News, MSNBC 'Not Interested' in Rick Sanchez, Even Post-Apology
*Alex Weprin, TVNewser: Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes Talks CNN, Rick Sanchez and Jon Klein Departures… On Fox News
Hundreds of pages of e-mails released to at least three news organizations under the Freedom of Information Act show that Obama administration officials knew they did not have all the facts last summer when they rushed to dismiss Shirley Sherrod from the Agriculture Department after learning of a video that painted her as a bigot.
“The e-mails, some of which were redacted by the Agriculture Department, do not show whether the White House ordered the dismissal, long a point of speculation,” Peter Nicholas and Kathleen Hennessey of the Tribune Washington Bureau wrote.
“Sherrod has said that when department Deputy Undersecretary Cheryl Cook called and asked her to resign, Cook told her the White House wanted her out, but USDA and White House officials have said the decision was made within the agency.
“However, the e-mails suggest the White House was watching with interest. 'Just wanted you to know that this dismissal came up at our morning senior staff meeting today,' Christopher Lu, who serves as Obama's liaison to the Cabinet, wrote to top Agriculture officials early July 20, the morning after Sherrod was ousted. 'Everyone complimented USDA on how quickly you took this action,' he wrote, adding that it would stop an 'unpleasant story' from getting 'traction.' 'Thanks for the great efforts.'
“Within the USDA, the messages show, government officials had moved at breakneck pace to try to beat the news cycle, leaving little time to ask questions, seek legal advice or consider Sherrod's side of the story.”
Tamron Hall is hosting a new hourlong political news show on MSNBC, “NewsNation,” starting Monday at 2 p.m. She becomes the only journalist of color hosting a show on the cable network.
An announcement said, “Her new show will feature in-depth coverage of the day's biggest political news, as well as interviews with pundits and policy-makers. Hall has been with msnbc since July of 2007, where she has served as an anchor on our dayside programming, host of a 2009 'Dateline' series titled, 'You Might Be Rich,' and has filled in for Ann Curry and other anchors on NBC's TODAY.
“Her new show will feature in-depth coverage of the day's biggest political news, as well as interviews with pundits and policy-makers.”