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Posted by on Oct 5, 2010 in Media | 0 comments

Fired CNN Anchor Rick Sanchez Apologizes to Jon Stewart (UPDATED)

Fired CNN anchor Rick Sanchez has apologized to comedian Jon Stewart, according to a post on his wife’s Facebook page which raises a point I made to some people in New Hampshire this weekend: if Sanchez tried to walk back or explain his comments and it was accepted by some key media players it was highly likely that despite the conventional wisdom, his career was most assuredly not over.

AOL News reports in a status update on her Facebook page she wrote

that Sanchez apologized to Stewart, host of “The Daily Show,” and that the two “had a good talk.”

“He got caught up in the banter and deeply apologizes to anyone who was offended by his unintended comments,” Suzanne Sanchez wrote.

On his Comedy Central show Monday night, Stewart didn’t mention the apology, but he did discuss the Sanchez affair, joking that he was dismayed by the timing of the CNN anchor’s radio comments because “The Daily Show” doesn’t tape on Fridays — meaning he had to wait until Monday to air a response. By that time, CNN had already fired Sanchez….l

…On Monday, Stewart replayed clips from Sanchez’s radio interview, pausing the audio at one point to exclaim, “Oh my God! Rick Sanchez knows my name!”

He acknowledged that Sanchez objected to the way he’d poked fun at what he called CNN’s “quite frankly, extremely poke-able show,” but said the anchor may have missed part of the point.

“We weren’t making fun of Rick Sanchez because of some slight to his ethnicity. It’s just that we see him as a complex television character who’s flawed but fascinating,” Stewart said. “And now they fire the guy,” he continued, expressing some sympathy for Sanchez.

“If CNN got rid of Rick Sanchez because they didn’t like his show, fine. We weren’t that crazy about it either. But if they fired him for making some intemperate statements and some Jew-baiting, I gotta tell ya. I’m not even sure Sanchez believes what he was saying,” Stewart said. “I think the guy’s probably got a good heart.

Here’s the video of Stewart’s comments:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Hurty Sanchez
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

This weekend in talking with some other guests at a hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire I told them that I predicted Sanchez would be back after taking some steps. Not on CNN but he’d be back in some media capacity. If he clarified his remarks there would be some who would never accept any explanation because they would conclude his original remarks were a window into his soul in terms of how he viewed Jews, his hubris in terms of class resentment, and his ability to be a corporate player which meant not saying whatever popped into your head about your employer — certainly on not on the radio. But there is a segment of America who will give someone a second chance, although it’s a tougher road to get that if you make comments about race or religion.

The REALITY is that to many on the left and right Sanchez became a caricature — a reliable punch line for fun, an assured laugh from an audience by comedians who know the value of ongoing “callback” jokes (I use some in my own shows in my other incarnation on some topics and David Letterman in particular is a genius in using this technique) or a symbolic target to point to in order go on the political or ideololgical attack. Indeed, Sanchez he earned the ire of left and right and not always because of his performance as a journalist/host. Before he inserted his foot in his mouth he was making valid points about the 21st century’s trending in news towards left-oriented and right-oriented news/opinion networks. He was becoming an advocate for an older school of journalism — which some now feel is genuinely outmoded and perhaps doomed — that tries to straddle the center and attact big audience/readership numbers.

But he was anchor who had lots of experience in Florida, on MSNBC and CNN.

The question seems to be not whether we’ll hear from Sanchez on a regular basis again, but when. Can a future appearance on Stewart’s, Leno’s, Letterman’s or even Oprah’s show be somewhere in the future? That would be the next step.

If it sounds like pro forma apologies, even that won’t fly. Even in a world with changing political and societal values, a news anchor or reporter needs to generate trust and there will be some — Jewish and non-Jewish — who simply won’t believe Rick Sanchez anymore. So his road back to a “big time” media gig could be tough — unless people such as Stewart suggest they don’t see in the same class as a seeming foaming-at-the-mouth equal opportunity hater such as Mel Gibson or even a Michael Richards who loses it in a comedy club and starts hurling racist adjectives. Stewart’s comments already signal that at least one step in that process has begun.

If you had to place a bet now it would be: we’ll likely (but at this point not definitely) hear from him again on a regular basis.

A bit more humble.

A bit more introspective.

A lot more guarded and a lot less bombastic.

But for a while, at least, Rick will remain on the list he doesn’t want to be on.

(FOOTNOTE: To those who will inevitably leap into comments or elsewhere and claim I’m papering over what Sanchez said or not putting it into the context of what has happened to otherse or noting what others have said you may wish to read this earlier post FIRST.)

UPDATE: I’ve mentioned here on my Twitter account the excellent XM station POTUS and Pete Dominick, host of the Sirius XM radio show “Stand Up!” and a CNN contributor. Sanchez made his comments on “Stand Up”. He tells the NY Post it wasn’t really his choice to have Sanchez on:

Pete Dominick, host of the Sirius XM radio show “Stand Up!” and CNN contributor, said that he was pressured into having Sanchez on as a guest.

“Frankly, I didn’t really want him to do the radio show,” he told his audience. “He’s not the type of guest we have on this show — we generally have experts on issues.

“But I work there at CNN, I didn’t want to say no.”

…”I figured we’d do 10 minutes with him,” said Dominick. “We’d talk about his book, it would certainly be an interesting conversation.”

Instead, Sanchez “came into the studio on Thursday with a live grenade in his mouth, and he pulled the pin,” Dominick added. “I tried to put it back for him, but he wasn’t having it.

“He apparently had an agenda to unleash on Jon Stewart . . . The way I see it, if Rick didn’t do it on my show, he would’ve done it somewhere else.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting any of this when the interview started, but remember, we were inside CNN headquarters!” he said. “Had I any hand in egging on Rick Sanchez in expressing his beliefs . . . I would never have endeared myself to my bosses.”

UPDATE II: Stephen Colbert had some thoughts on Rick Sanchez’s firing:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – It’s a Small-Minded World
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UPDATE III: Christopher Hitchens defends Sanchez and calls for his re-instatement. But a bit of friendly advice to Rick (whose weekend show I was on several years ago on CNN and who did a great segment and was a good host for our three person panel of left, right and center bloggers): arguments like Hitchens’ are NOT the ones you want to make.

UPDATE II: Letterman of course could not resist. It was a topic out in the political culture so he did a Top 10 List: