Rick Sanchez’s abrupt dismissal from CNN in the wake of explosive comments about Jon Stewart and complaint that the network that signed his checks is run by Jews on Friday was discussed on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday.
“We had to whip up this program at the last minute because a CNN anchor talked himself out of a job,” Howard Kurtz said at the top of the show.
Kurtz — who seemed to be pretty clearly reveling in Sanchez’s unraveling — led a discussion with former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson, ex-CNN correspondent Jamie McIntyre and Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi. (Before the segment, Kurtz played clips of Sanchez’s CNN show, including one where Sanchez, for some reason, demonstrated to viewers what it felt like to be tasered.) And there were plenty of digs at Sanchez, beginning with a couple from Kurtz himself.
Here are some highlights, via the transcript:
Kurtz: Those comments were offensive, we can agree on that. Was this is an overreaction by CNN? Could Sanchez have been suspended or tased?
McIntyre: Well, I think the unfortunate part, actually, is that Sanchez was fired for these intemperate comments and not really for what he did on CNN, which is seen by many people in the industry as kind of a joke. I mean, his delivery where he adlibbed the whole show and therefore had a lot of little slips that Jon Stewart made fun of –
Kurtz: What's wrong with being entertaining?
McIntyre: Well, it's OK to be entertaining, and I think people want that in television news. But what's missing there a lot of times is the context. And in the course of doing that, he did a lot of sort of things that came off as very silly. His stunts about, you know, where he's out in the middle of the ocean to be rescued, or in a sinking car —
Kurtz: You didn't want him to be rescued, clearly.
Farhi: Well, I mean, CNN is an employer, and in America, if you criticize your employer the way he did, you're going to lose your job. He went public. It's on satellite radio. Potentially now millions of people have heard Rick Sanchez' criticism of his own company. Not kosher.
McIntyre: To say that he was made uncomfortable at CNN because of his Hispanic heritage, I think it's close to delusional.
Simpson: I would be happy if Jon Stewart were replaying my takes, as silly as they may be. It's a lot of publicity.
Farhi: Yes, and again, an odd target to pick on. This is a comedy show. Rick Sanchez is a public figure whether he likes it or not.
McIntyre: I think CNN is probably a little bit better off without Rick Sanchez.
Simpson: I think too many minorities fall back on the issue of race and ethnicity to explain all of their setbacks, which I don't think is true. I agree with Jamie. I mean, I kind of thought of Rick as a blowhard, someone who was very full of himself. And I found him very amusing to watch on TV. But he thinks that he could have been better and bigger and all of these other things, and he wasn't because of his race, as being a Cuban-American. And then it tickles me, because he looks as white as any white man. I mean, without his name, you probably would not know he was Cuban.
Kurtz: Maybe he's ticked off that Eliot Spitzer is getting the timeslot. He, of course, is Jewish.
Here's the video of the segment: