Update: CNN announced this afternoon that Sanchez is “no longer with the company.”
CNN’s Rick Sanchez, a frequent target (like many anchors) of The Daily Show, went on comedian (and CNN contributor) Pete Dominick’s satellite radio show and said that Stewart was picking on him out of bigotry. And then he took it a little further. When Dominick raised the point that Stewart is Jewish—and thus, he argued, should be sympathetic to victims of prejudice—Sanchez reacted incredulously:
Very powerless people… [snickers] He’s such a minority, I mean, you know [sarcastically]… Please, what are you kidding? … 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.
Full disclosure: I’m myself Jewish (though my surname, from my Catholic father’s side, sometimes throws people). But I think it’s fair to say that Sanchez has brought himself and his employer a world of tsuris.
The thing is, if you listen to the full conversation—which I recommend, because it’s actually quite interesting in full—Sanchez actually has some legitmate (if not necessarily correct) arguments to make. He begins sounding as though he’s saying that Stewart is biased in the sense that his show is colored by a specific Eastern, liberal, white-collar background and worldview. At first, he seems to say (not that I agree with this) that Stewart is simply an elitist, and that there’s a cultural gap between him and people from working-class backgrounds (like Sanchez), whom he looks down on.
But—as with so many arguments like that—it quickly shades into a pretty ugly place. It’s true that Dominick is the one who brought up Jewishness (in Stewart’s defense). But if Sanchez is really smarter than Stewart gives him credit for, then he should be smart enough to be aware of the long history of paranoid accusations against Jews, particularly the insidious charges that Jews are a shifty, crafty people silently manipulating the world through behind-the-scenes machinations, controlling the banks, politics—or the media. To bring it up the way he did is stupid at minimum, at worst repellent.
Eventually in the interview, Sanchez walks back the argument, somewhat, saying that Stewart is “prejudicial” rather than an out-and-out bigot, and that “I don’t think Jewish has anything to do with this.” But he also continues that he believes that Stewart regards him as an uppity Hispanic, whom he’d be glad to condescendingly approve of if he stayed in his place and “read the Teleprompter,” and that–while Stewart’s father might remember the Holocaust and oppression–that’s not an issue for Stewart’s generation.
As to the substance of Sanchez’s accusations against Stewart, by the way: maybe he should have a talk with his coworker Wolf Blitzer, or John King, or any other of his colleagues whose ethnic backgrounds I’m unaware of. The Daily Show attacks stupidity, and while Sanchez’s argument that Stewart should focus on the worse offenses of Fox News seems like sour grapes, in any case The Daily Show finds plenty of stupidity out there to make fun of.
And as we just saw, the world provides more of it every day.