Posted Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010, at 6:20 PM
You make some thoughtful points about Rick Sanchez’s firing, but I think his comments were more than merely "ill considered remarks." That Sanchez sees himself as not only victimized by Jon Stewart but by others "like him" (i.e., Jews who control the media) perhaps reflects Sanchez’s larger views about Jewish people. And let’s not forget his easy dismissal of the past suffering of Jewish people.
If his beef is with Stewart, then why not just insult Stewart on air when he got the chance? Take a couple of funny swipes at him and call it a day? Why blame all Jewish people working in the media? As a person of color, I’m used to hearing people making all black people a proxy for an individual black person. That’s why I found radio personality Dr. Laura’s controversial comments about black people so troubling--and offensive. What she said was racist and so was what Sanchez said.
Members of the media who have a public platform to speak from have a greater responsibility to, well, speak responsibly because of the huge influence they have in shaping public opinion. Their position gives them more authority than the average Joe, not to mention more credibility with the average Joe. (Although that credibility is fast eroding.)
When Rick Sanchez, Don Imus, Dr. Laura, and many others who have access to the public airwaves say irresponsible and racist things, their listeners, viewers, employers, co-workers, and other members of the media have every right to call them out on it.
I think CNN handled Sanchez’s ouster very deftly. The press release might have as well have read: Rick Sanchez made stupid, bigoted comments that don’t reflect our values and that’s why we canned him. We expect better from our reporters and anchors and believe his comments will erode the public’s trust of CNN. We don’t tolerate bigotry in any form. End of story. No tortured excuse-making to justify keeping him on staff. No trying to explain to the public what he really meant to say. No defending his comments by attacking the corrosive effects of political correctness, or by invoking his First Amendment rights. No refusing to act until outraged interests groups put pressure on CNN’s advertisers to pull their ads. No weeks-long public distraction and debate.
Sanchez could have helped put things to rest by making a public apology, but he has not. His wife said in a Facebook posting that he did apologize to Stewart personally, however. Meanwhile Stewart has been having a ball on his show and elsewhere making fun of Sanchez’s comments and firing. David Letterman did too with a top 10 list of Rick Sanchez's excuses for his behavior which includes reason No. 4: "Trying to impress Mel Gibson."