TV News anchors report news. Despite a world where nearly all express opinions – voice it publicly via Twitter and blogs – news people must remain as objective as possible. How can we rely on a dispassionate news voice, if a journalist rails against personal demons? Rick Sanchez is now the poster boy for that unfortunate phenomenon.
Rick Sanchez became yet another high profile media personality to crash and burn over spouting outrageous comments. Disturbing by any measure, it’s not even worth going over what happened – as is the case of Dr. Laura, Don Imus or Octavia Nasr. The parallel which runs through these sad cases of ‘foot in mouth’ affliction is these media biggies grew too big for New Media britches. Both Imus and Schlessinger spouted highly charged racial statements. Nasr took to Twitter to offer opinions on Israel and terrorism. The bitter fallout swept the country.
Nasr, as an editor at CNN for Middle East affairs, was punished as too opinionated. Dr. Laura, after her on air explosion, realized how clumsily she handled the racial incident. It hit Imus – eventually – that jokes he said about a girl basketball team were totally out of bounds. Now there’s Rick Sanchez.
Sanchez, a likable enough TV news guy, seemed to grow more important – to himself anyway – by constantly reminding us he was one of the first to use New Media tools Twitter and Facebook. He’d routinely get thousands of tweet and texts from CNN viewers. It appeared Sanchez was headed for superstar media status like Geraldo Rivera, Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann. Indeed, on a few occasions, he tangled with MSNBC’s Olbermann.
The mistake Rick Sanchez made was that these pundits are far more entertainment figures than news readers. Geraldo Rivera’s a rare one who seems to be able to do it all – shuttle between his old Oprah style talk show, and hard news. Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann – these are commentators and op-ed jockeys. They don’t so much report news, as comment on it and make it. Finally, when all is said and done, they’re more entertainers – infotainers? – than journalists.
Rick Sanchez tried to break away from a news gig to become more of a commentator, to offer his opinions on the world. When he came onto Pete Dominick’s Sirius show, he blasted CNN, Jon Stewart and media in general in a way that Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann might. He became blurred with his own media image and with the simple, if frustrating fact, that some people get away with nearly anything because of position or fame.
Sorry, Rick, you forgot who you were, or who you were supposed to be. Your CNN job was to report news objectively. You aren’t Howard Stern, or Rachel Maddow, or for that matter Jon Stewart, who perhaps pushed you a bit too far. You weren’t at CNN to crudely shoot your mouth off, and not expect any repercussions.