The Web is burning up with this comment that CNN’s Rick Sanchez made on a radio show, which seems like he’s saying CNN and the networks are run by Jews:
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? Yeah.
If Sanchez meant that everybody who runs the networks is a lot like Stewart in that they’re Jewish, that’s obviously very, very bad, and portends serious trouble for him. I wonder, though, if that’s what he really meant. Here’s the full context of what Sanchez said about Stewart — most of his complaint is directed at white liberals who, Sanchez complains, don’t understand minorities despite their best intentions:
SANCHEZ: He is one of the left wing elite northeast establishment guys who says, I like black people and Mexicans as long as they’re, “here, let me tap you on the head. Way to go, Ricky, you’re doing a good job.” But as soon as you do or say something or develop any kind of character, they push you down. Just like the administrator who said he didn’t want me to be an anchor, he wanted me to be a reporter, because when he looks at me he thinks of other Hispanic reporters like John Quinones.
QUESTIONER: Do you think that’s a conscious thing, that Stewart or left wing liberals or whatever do?
SANCHEZ: No, I don’t.
QUESTIONER: Because he’s on the same side as you on immigration.
SANCHEZ: I don’t think it’s a conscious thing. I just think it’s important that people who are not minorities understand that those of us who are — and very few of us will say the things that I just said — are actually more complex than they think we are.
QUESTIONER: Stewart’s a minority as much as you are. He’s Jewish.
SANCHEZ: Yeah. Yeah. Very powerless people. Please. What are you, kidding?
QUESTIONER: You’re telling me that –
SANCHEZ: 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? Yeah.
It’s not quite clear what Sanchez means here. Again: If he was referring derisively to the people who run all the networks as Jewish, that’s obviously awful. But reading the full context, it seems at least possible that when he referred to Stewart and the people at the networks he was referring not to Jews, but to snooty white liberal elites who don’t understand minorities. After all, that’s who he’d been talking about during the bulk of the whole exchange.
The problem for Sanchez is that even if that were what he meant, he said it just before his sneering dismissal of the idea that Jews are an oppressed minority. So even if he did mean to say what I suggested above, it may be tough for him to get his clarification taken seriously.
On the other hand, Sanchez very well could have meant his comments in the way that the worst possible interpretation suggests.
UPDATE, 3:04 p.m.: Let me try to be a bit clearer. The charitable interpretation of what he said — and I mean charitable — is that Sanchez’s mind was on the white liberals he’d been ranting about. In the first half of the offending quote he was referring to them:
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.
Then, in the second half, he addressed what his questioner had said about Jews:
And to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.
The problem is that even if he meant these comments in the less offensive way, he used the word “they” in that second half before saying “the people in this country who are Jewish.” This will be impossible for him to clarify. And, again, he very well have meant the comments in the worst way.