CNN fires Rick Sanchez after outburst

MIAMI — CNN fired anchor Rick Sanchez Friday, a day after he said on a radio show that Jews control U.S. television networks. “Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company,” a CNN spokesman said. “We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well.”

Sanchez’s outburst about Jews came during a rant against Jon Stewart, who often makes fun of Sanchez on his Comedy Central show. Sanchez was being interviewed on comedian Pete Dominick’s XM Sirius Radio show when the conversation went off the rails.

It started relatively innocently, with Sanchez expressing irritation at being lumped in with other Latino TV journalists by a CNN boss. Racist attitudes aren’t rooted on the political right, he added, but also extend to “elite, Northeast establishment liberals.”

“Deep down, when they look at a guy like me, they see a guy automatically who belongs in the second tier, and not the top tier,” Sanchez continued. Then he said: “I think to some extent Jon Stewart and (Comedy Central comic Stephen) Colbert are the same way. I think Jon Stewart’s a bigot.”

How’s that? asked the puzzled Dominick. “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,” replied Sanchez, speaking of Stewart. “Great, I’m so happy that he grew up in a suburban middle class New Jersey home with everything you could ever imagine.”

“What group is he bigoted towards?” pressed Dominick.

“Everybody else who’s not like him. Look at his show, I mean, what does he surround himself with?” said Sanchez. When Dominick seemed surprised that Sanchez could level a charge of bigotry against Jews, who themselves have been subjected to discrimination, Sanchez dismissed the idea.

“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?” Sanchez said, then added with sarcastic emphasis: “Yeah.”

Transcripts and audio clips of the exchange began popping up on the Internet Friday morning, and at 6 p.m. CNN issued its terse statement dismissing him. Sanchez, a wildly popular if controversial anchor in Miami during the 1990s, joined CNN in 2004 after bombing first as an MSNBC anchor and then as a talk-show host in Miami.

By Glenn Garvin/McClatchy Newspapers