CNN anchor and host of “Rick’s List” Rick Sanchez was fired last week after an appearance on comedian Pete Dominick’s satellite radio show, where he called Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart a “bigot” and made anti-Semitic remarks. According to CBS News.com, Sanchez later backtracked in the show and tried to retract his use of the word “bigot,” replacing it instead with “prejudicial.”
Sanchez has a history of making gaffes on-air, whether on radio or during his television show and appearances. He could have been fired several times before,for behavior like what he displayed in February of this year, after his controversial treatment of a scientist on-air circulated widely on the Internet through video website YouTube. The footage had many accusing him afterward of bullying the expert, who had come to talk with him about a possible tsunami in Hawaii.
Sanchez now joins an interesting group of commentators who have found themselves in hot water. Dr. Laura Schlessinger has a long rap sheet of on-air controversies in her decades spent on the radio, and always kept on with her show anyway. In August, however, ABC News.com reported that Schlessinger announced that she was quitting her show after her repeated use of the “n-word” in an on-air broadcast ignited a slew of controversy and criticism. She may have quit her radio show, but she’ll continue to do media in one way, shape, or form – so she’ll continue to be in the public eye, regardless of her past statements.
Radio staple Don Imus didn’t get a chance to quit after CBS News.com and others reported his use of racial slurs against the Rutgers women’s basketball team in 2007. MSNBC, which simulcast his show, and CBS, which owned it, both dropped him immediately. Imus resurfaced almost immediately on radio with “Imus in the Morning,” which is now simulcast by the Fox Business Network as well.
CNN itself reported that TV host Bill Maher’s ABC show “Politically Incorrect” was almost immediately canceled after Maher made a comment about the bravery of the 9/11 terrorists that many took to be praise, igniting controversy. HBO came calling shortly thereafter, and Maher has been on the network since 2003 with “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
CNN had put up with Sanchez for awhile without making any comments about his previous controversies. The remarks Sanchez made about Stewart and “Jews in Hollywood” were the first ones he’s made that were blatant enough in their anti-Semitism that CNN wasn’t going to be allowed to keep him on the roster any longer, despite his ability to draw ratings for them.
Expect Sanchez to show up elsewhere relatively soon, whether that looks like radio, print, or television media – or some combination of all three. His reputation may be permanently damaged even amongst those who had previously supported him, but, like Schlessinger, Imus, or Maher, Sanchez brings in listeners with his commentary as surely as he repels others. Whether or not it’s warranted, because of his ability to draw attention, somebody will give him another chance to be heard; it’s guaranteed.
Dean Schabner and Sheila Marikar, “Dr. Laura Schlessinger says she’s quitting radio after n-word flap.” ABCNews.com
Jack Mirkinson, “Dr. Laura’s History of Incendiary Statements.” HuffingtonPost.com
Judy Faber, “CBS Fires Don Imus Over Racial Slur.” CBSNews.com
CNN.com, “Maher canceled, Kimmel lands slot at ABC.”
Lucy Madison, “Rick Sanchez out at CNN after saying Jon Stewart a bigot, suggesting network is run by Jews.” CBSNews.com
YouTube.com, “CNN’s Rick Sanchez bullying a scientist and asking what 9 meters “in English” is.”