So Rick Sánchez has been fired from CNN for inflammatory comments about Jews. It’s frustrating to see a lot of the media coverage slanting the story with the notion that he was fired for calling Jon Stewart a bigot. In saying that Jews control the media, and oppress people of “true” color, such as himself and blacks, Sánchez tapped into a centuries long tradition of conspiratorial, anti-semitism. For an informative report on what Sánchez said, click here. The most revealing quote, the quote that sunk Sánchez, is this one: “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. [sarcastically]”
Anti-Semitism thrives on the idea of Jewish conspiracy for world domination, famously posed by a hateful tract called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion at the beginning of the twentieth century. “Three hundred men, each of whom knows all the others,” runs a famous quote, “govern the fate of the European continent, and they elect their successors from their entourage.” The Protocols remain popular to this day, and its theses continue to be used to demonize jews as a conspiratorial sect. All this matters, of course, because of how such ideas have been put to use in the past. So…back to Sánchez– in talking about a shadowy group of “them” (Jews) who control the media, even his own network, and of how “they” oppress “real” people of color such as himself, Sánchez just went too far. He said things that are easily classifiable and easily recognizable as anti-Semitic. Now he has paid the price for venting.
At the heart of Sánchez’s complaint against Stewart is a great deal of personal hurt over how the comedian has skewered him. Sánchez feels that the so-called northeastern, liberal, Jewish elites personified by Stewart and his bosses at CNN, reject him because he is too brown (like fellow journalist John Quiñones). But Jon Stewart is not a bigot for making fun of Sánchez on his show. Stewart makes fun of Sánchez because Sánchez presents himself as a larger than life, bombastic personality that always craves chummy rapport with his viewers. Sánchez also says stupid or silly things, and seems completely devoid of any self-awareness. Sánchez’s attack on Stewart says a lot about how the newscaster views himself: he sees himself as a victim of classism and racism, and implies that his own employers are racist Jews who want to keep him “down” rather than recognize his talents and contribution. I was shocked to realize that beneath Sánchez’s overconfident exterior was such a deep-seated sense of hurt and racial persecution. Unfortunately for him, his lack of personal boundaries and his venting about this hurt led him to say things that ended his career at CNN.
CNN did not fire Rick Sánchez because of Jon Stewart. CNN fired Sánchez because he made wholly inappropriate comments about Jews and was wholly unprofessional (even hostile) in how he represented his role at CNN. Maybe there’s more to this story, relating to low ratings and previous problems with Sánchez at the network, but he was not fired because he attacked Stewart.