NAHJ Clams Up on Rick Sanchez Firing
Monday, October 4, 2010
Updated October 5
Jessica Durkin, a board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said of Rick Sanchez, "I would have fired him too. His comments were ridiculous and, of all things, included negative remarks about his employer." She said she was not speaking for the association.
The board of directors of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists has decided not to comment on CNN's firing of anchor Rick Sanchez, but former president Rafael Olmeda is contrasting the punishment meted out to Sanchez, one of the few Latino anchors on English-language network television, with that given former CNN host Lou Dobbs.
In the course of asserting a glass ceiling for Latino journalists at CNN, Sanchez went on to disparage late-night comedian Jon Stewart, who has made fun of Sanchez. He called Stewart a "bigot" with a privileged worldview — later changing the term to "uninformed" — and added, "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.' "
He was fired on Friday.
Dobbs, the controversial CNN anchor whose opinions and purported "facts" on such social issues as immigration angered Latinos and others, resigned from the cable network in November 2009 only after months of protests from NAHJ, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others.
Comparing the Sanchez case with those involving Dobbs and radio hosts Don Imus, who is syndicated, and Brian Kilmeade of Fox, Olmeda wrote on his Facebook page Friday night, "Rick Sanchez' comments were unprofessional and unwise. Fireable? It's not like he referred to humans as being of another species. It's not like he sat in an anchor's chair for years and spread demonstrable falsehoods about the largest minority in America. People have kept their jobs at CNN and other networks after saying far worse for far longer. Not defending what he said. Just wondering when unwise words warrant swift termination and when they warrant an attack on politically correct thought police."
Olmeda, a writer at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel who went from NAHJ leader to president of Unity: Journalists of Color, reiterated to Journal-isms Sunday night, "I am not defending what he said. Not in the slightest. It's just that in the past, when I've criticized dunderheaded comments made by other anchors, I've been on the receiving end of harsh criticism about what a thin-skinned, politically correct crybaby I am. I'm waiting for my critics to step forward and defend Rick Sanchez: not agreeing with him, but calling for the same patience they demand of me."
Journal-isms asked current NAHJ board members for their thoughts on the Sanchez firing.
"NAHJ isn't commenting on Rick Sanchez's firing. Nor am I," President Michele Salcedo said by e-mail on Sunday.
Asked to explain the decision not to comment, Salcedo did not reply.
Other board members followed suit, despite reassurances that their responses would not be reported as speaking for the organization.
"NAHJ has not made an official statement on this situation regarding Mr. Sanchez's employment status. I don't feel comfortable making a statement when the group has not done so first," said Gustavo Reveles Acosta of the El Paso Times, vice president for print.
Sanchez's comments about Jews and Stewart have received most of the media attention, not what preceded them.
"There is a sad, circular pattern to the bigotry that Sanchez obviously experienced and was scarred by, embittered to the point that even as a successful cable anchor, it escaped his lips one day and blew up his career," Melinda Henneberger, editor in chief of the Politics Daily web site, wrote on Saturday.
Sanchez anchored for CNN en Español, and on CNN hosted "Rick's List," which was drawing a small audience at 8 p.m., according to the latest Nielsen ratings. He was chosen to fill that slot after Campbell Brown's departure in May. But he was passed over for the permanent spot, and CNN scheduled 'Parker Spitzer,' starring disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and syndicated Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker. It debuts on Monday.
In an interview Thursday on Pete Dominick's Sirius XM Radio show, Sanchez said Fox News' business model is that "there are angry white guys out there; we need to program to them." But he said not just the right wing can be faulted. "I’ve known a lot of elite Northeast establishment liberals that may not use this as a business model, who deep down when they look at a guy like me they look at a— they see a guy automatically who belongs in the second tier and not the top tier."
Dominick: "Why do you say that? Give me an example — because you're Cuban-American . . ."
Sanchez: "I had a guy who works here at CNN who's a top brass come to me and say, 'You know what, I don't want you to —"
Dominick: "Will you wash this dish for me, Sanchez?"
Sanchez: "No, no, see that’s the thing; it’s more subtle. White folks usually don't see it. But we do — those of us who are minorities and women see it sometimes too from men in authority. Here, I’ll give you my example. It's this: 'You know what, I don't want you anchoring anymore, I really don't see you as an anchor, I see you more as a reporter, I see you more as a John Quiñones — you know the guy on ABC. That’s what he told me. He told me he saw me as John Quiñones. Now, did he not realize that he was telling me, 'When I see you I think of Hispanic reporters’? Cause in his mind I can’t be an anchor. An anchor is what you give the high-profile white guys, you know. So he knocks me down to that and compares me to that and it happens all the time. I think to a certain extent Jon Stewart and [Steve] Colbert are the same way. I think Jon Stewart’s a bigot. . . .
"I think he looks at the world through his mom who was a schoolteacher, and his dad who was a physicist or something like that. Great, I’m so happy that he grew up in a suburban middle class New Jersey home with everything that you could ever imagine."
Dominick: "What group is he bigoted towards?"
Sanchez: "Everybody else who's not like him. Look at his show! What does he surround himself with?"
. . . "And, when you turn on a show or listen to someone’s writings and they minimize you and treat you like you don't matter, like you're just a piece of— you're just a dumb, like you're a dumb jock or a dumb woman or a dumb Puerto Rican or a dumb Cuban or another dumb Mexican, which is the way I feel whenever I watch Jon Stewart. . . ."
Marisa Guthrie added for Broadcasting & Cable:
"When Dominic suggested that Jews have endured similar societal prejudice, Sanchez scoffed.
" 'Yeah,' said Sanchez, sarcastically. 'Very powerless people… He’s such a minority … 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.' "
He said that having grown up in Miami, he had friends who were Jews, and that unlike with Hispanics, "I can't see anybody not getting a job these days because they're Jewish." Thus, people like Stewart and Colbert don't share experiences such as his.
Dominic concluded the interview with, "I have a newfound respect for this guy. I don't necessarily agree. I think people will certainly sympathize with Rick's point of view."
Not so much.
Frances Martel, a Cuban-American writer, wrote on Mediaite, "For any member of a minority that has had received worse service at a business or been the object of near-silent discrimination in the workplace, his words resonated. For any Cuban-American who tried to get a job in New York in the 1970s or ’80s, the words rang true. And for someone in my shoes, who had heard all the horror stories from white bosses that came before from family friends and relatives, it was very easy to see where he was coming from.
"What didn’t ring true, however, was that he claimed this was all still happening, at a time when it appeared almost no one remembered (or cared to remember) Sanchez’s ethnic background unless they, too, shared it, and felt obligated to carry the burden of calling him one of our own."
She concluded, "As much as Sanchez’s hard work was a point of pride for those of us in the community who find a dearth of role models in this industry (and, due to numbers alone, in any industry), this incident has set his alleged cause of racial transcendence back beyond from where it was before he came on the scene to begin with."
Former ABC anchor Carole Simpson, who is African American, weighed in as part of a panel Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources."
"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," she said. "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."
- Complete Rick Sanchez interview with Pete Dominick (audio)
- Rocky Alvarez blog: Ken Jautz has no Hispanic Anchors at CNN
- Rocky Alvarez blog: CNN Back-stabs Rick Sanchez During Infomercial Disguised as a Show
- Chris Ariens, TVNewser: Rick Sanchez: "Hold the Viewers’ Attention, Get them on the Edge of their Seats"
- "Flackback," TheWrap.com: CNN and Rick Sanchez: The Case for Saying Nothing
- Warner Todd Huston, Chicago Now: Rick Sanchez And The Showbiz Third Rail
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: The GOP and Tea Party Can Learn Something from CNN's Sanchez Firing
- Dylan Stableford, theWrap.com: Howard Kurtz Revels in Dissecting Rick Sanchez Firing on CNN
- Georg Szalai, Hollywood Reporter: Jon Stewart mocks Rick Sanchez
- Sam Thielman, Variety: CNN sends message with Sanchez firing
Three members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists board of directors have offered their opinions about the firing of Rick Sanchez, with each specifying that he or she was not speaking for the association.
On Monday, Ada Alvarez, multimedia editor for Washington Hispanic and Spanish language at-large officer for NAHJ, said she was not speaking for the association but felt the firing was a pity. She said she wished the network would establish and explain the policies and methods used for "firing a person for comments and how they measure how 'bad they are.' . . . In my office we always see his show and I personally believe we can see his show and either agree or disagree that he is good, which I believe he is . . . I hope we get either him on board again (working) and we have someone that is a Sanchez with that type of show soon and that the music of 'ay Dios mio' from the show doesn't leave the network without diversity."
Board member Jessica Durkin, who represents the Mid-Atlantic region, wrote on Facebook, "I would have fired him too. His comments were ridiculous and, of all things, included negative remarks about his employer. Rick Sanchez is no intellectual, and Jon Stewart's observations about him were usually spot-on. But I did find Rick likable as hell and I watched his show.
"In this case, if NAHJ were to say anything as an organization, it would be to encourage CNN to continue placing Hispanic journalists in high-profile positions at the network. That comment above is my personal thought. I'm not speaking for NAHJ."
Patricio Espinoza, independent all-platforms digital journalist who is online at-large officer, said by e-mail on Tuesday, "My personal thought is that NAHJ in many occasions has spoken on Latino journalists related issues, and while I cannot speak for the board, I lament the loss of a national Latino journalist, and his poor choice of words. I do, however trust, hope and encourage CNN to properly represent on-air, and on the anchor chair, Latinos, the fastest growing minority in the country." [Updated Oct. 5]
- Richard Prince, Rafael Olmeda and Howard Rosenberg with Michel Martin on "Tell Me More," NPR: The Rick Sanchez Meltdown And Journalism Ethics [Oct. 5]
- Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times: How Jewish Is Hollywood? (2008)
A census of top managers in print-journalism newsrooms by the National Association of Black Journalists "found that there are few black journalists in the middle-management ranks who are being groomed for top jobs because of the recent exodus of journalists of color as documented by NABJ’s studies and the annual report by the American Society of News Editors," the association reported on its website.
"There are more top editors, but the publisher and managing editor ranks are down from 2004, the last time a count was done on African-American print executives in the newspaper industry," the notice said.
"There are 17 blacks heading newsrooms around the country, up from 13. Some of those joining the top ranks were Hollis Towns in Asbury Park, N.J., Robin Washington in Duluth, Africa Price in Shreveport, La., Glenn Proctor in Richmond, Va., David Blount in Stockton, Calif., and Martin Reynolds in Oakland, Calif.
"The most significant drop came at managing editor. There are 11 Managing Editors nationally; there were 17 in 2004. There are nine publishers; there were 14 in 2004.
"There are one-two punches (African-American editor-managing editor) in three cities: Oakland, Shreveport and Jackson, Miss.
"The study was compiled by Don Hudson of the Clarion Ledger" in Jackson, Miss., "and Nisa Muhammad of the Final Call under the direction of Vice President-Print Deirdre M. Childress."
Desirée Rogers, "elegant and seemingly unflappable, is certainly relishing her newfound liberation," Jeremy W. Peters wrote in a feature-story spread in Sunday's New York Times.
"During New York Fashion Week, she watched shows by Jason Wu, Thakoon and Rodarte from front-row seats, blogging about her experience. Since taking over in her new role, she has consulted the Vogue editor Anna Wintour and the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter for advice on navigating the magazine business. 'Desirée is a rock star,' Ms. Wintour said when asked about Ms. Rogers’s prospects as a magazine executive."
"She has dined and mingled at fashion show after-parties with her good friend Francisco Costa, Calvin Klein’s top designer. In her capacity as Johnson Publishing’s top saleswoman, she has taken meetings with executives at the nation’s leading corporate institutions, part of a new advertising strategy that has brought the likes of Citigroup and J. P. Morgan Chase into the pages of Ebony for the first time. . . .
"Ms. Rogers’s profile and her connections are precisely why Ms. Rice, Johnson Publishing’s chairwoman, hired her despite her lack of experience in publishing," Peters wrote, referring to Linda Johnson Rice, daughter of company founder John H. Johnson. "Before the White House, Ms. Rogers was director of the Illinois Lottery and president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, utility companies servicing the Chicago area.
" 'It does help to have someone that has a certain presence,' Ms. Rice said in an interview from her ninth-floor office in the downtown Chicago high-rise that her father built in the early 1970s — at the time one of the city’s only office buildings built by a black man. 'It takes you up another level. And we’ve got to be out there more.'
"Ms. Rice said she has no plans to keep Ms. Rogers under tight control. 'I will let Desirée be Desirée, and all that goes with that,' she said. 'The marketing, the leadership skills — all of that, plus the glamour and the style. Come on! We’re in the media business. We’re in the beauty business. This is perfect.' "
"Yes, I understand that 'CHANGE' has to be done sometimes incrementally," Leutisha Stills, or "The Christian Progressive Liberal," wrote last week for the Jack & Jill Politics blog. "But, why aren’t the Democratic Leadership explaining that the same way leaders like DNC Chair Tim Kaine and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn did in person and on conference calls with Black Bloggers? Why did I feel like I was being chastised for not doing enough?
"Two weeks ago, I was one of 20 or so bloggers who attended the meeting with DNC Chair Tim Kaine," she continued, referring to the Democratic National Committee. He didn’t make me feel like I was being disciplined for not getting the word out about what President Obama has managed to accomplish in the first two years of his presidency. In fact, he readily acknowledged the influence of bloggers on the debate of public policy and legislation. I got the sense he wanted to engage us from 2010 and onward. My colleague, Debbie Hines of LegalSpeaks, hit a home run when she advised Gov. Kaine that the problem in getting the voter enthusiasm of two years ago, is that you need to learn how to 'tell the story.' ”
Derrick L. Plummer, regional press secretary for African American media for the Democratic National Committee, told Journal-isms that the outreach demonstrates the importance the Democrats place on the Internet and the blogosphere in getting out the party's message. An ad from the DNC appears on the website of the Black Snob.
- Cord Jefferson, theRoot.com: The Root Interview: The DNC's Tim Kaine on the Midterms
- Joy-Ann Reid, theGrio.com: DNC chair Kaine to black voters: Stand with Obama again
"Earlier this week, President Obama sat down to chat with NBC's Matt Lauer, marking the president's 25th interview with a peacock property," Nikki Schwab and Katy Adams wrote last week for the Washington Examiner.
"We looked at how many interviews the networks have been given since Obama took office and, not surprisingly, Fox came in last. Here's how they fared:
"25 — NBC (including CNBC, MSNBC)
"16 — ABC
"15 — CBS
"8 — CNN (including CNN Espanol)
"4 - Fox"
- Megan Cottrell, Chicago Reporter: Since Obama's election, has racism gotten better or worse?
- Steven Thrasher, Village Voice: White America Has Lost Its Mind
Conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe says that a CNN reporter who exposed his alleged plot to seduce her on a boat 'was never going to be placed in a threatening situation,' " Michael Calderone wrote Monday on his Yahoo News site.
"O'Keefe offered his explanation of events Monday on Big Government and Big Journalism, two right-leaning websites run by publisher and provocateur Andrew Breitbart. . . .
"Last week, CNN investigative correspondent Abbie Boudreau said she learned of the boat plot while working on 'Right on the Edge,' a documentary about young conservatives. 'Recently, I was the target of a failed punk,' Boudreau wrote. 'James O'Keefe, the so-called 'pimp' in the ACORN exposé videos, was participating in a detailed plan to "faux" seduce me on his boat.'
"Boudreau reported that Izzy Santa, one of O'Keefe's colleagues, warned her that a scheduled face-to-face meeting with O'Keefe was really a setup for a prank."
Boudreau's documentary, which included a report on the scheme, aired Saturday night.
On CNN's "Reliable Sources" media show, host Howard Kurtz said Sunday of O'Keefe's intentions, "That is a new low. Even O'Keefe's biggest backer, conservative crusader Andrew Breitbart, [is] demanding an explanation, calling O'Keefe's plan patently gross and offensive."
In September 2009, Breitbart's BigGovernment.com posted videos made by O'Keefe and Hannah Giles and O'Keefe that purported to show ACORN employees counseling the two, ostensibly pretending to be a prostitute and a pimp, on how to avoid paying taxes and other illegal activities. The community organizing group lost its federal funding in the fallout.
- Sheila Brooks, longtime member, supporter and onetime officer of the National Association of Black Journalists, has donated $10,000 to NABJ in student scholarship money, courtesy of SRB Communications, LLC, of which Brooks is founder, president and CEO, the company announced on Monday.
Thea Williams, 45, an executive producer at KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas, died Wednesday after battling breast cancer, Jim McNabb wrote Friday on the Austin Post website. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Williams joined KVUE 15 years ago as a producer. "Thea was a talented journalist and was widely respected for her high standards and great compassion. She was a leader in the newsroom, a mentor to young journalists, and most of all, a dear friend," a note on the station's website said.
- Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks attended services last week for fifth-grade teacher Rigoberto Ruelas, who committed suicide. "Family members have said he had been upset over his score in a teacher-rating database our newspaper created and posted online, which ranked him slightly below average," she wrote Saturday. "But just as good teaching can't be divined solely from a set of test scores, suicide can't be understood as a single act. We can't know what was on Ruelas' mind when he ordered a substitute for his fifth-grade class and headed into the Angeles National Forest. We can turn his death into a teachable moment."
- Carla Torres, who had been working at the Baytown (Texas) Sun as a copy editor for about a year, has been named managing editor, the paper announced on Sept. 25. "She began her newspaper career at The (McAllen) Monitor in South Texas and most recently has worked for the Houston Chronicle and The Galveston County Daily News," the story said.
- The caption to Wiley Miller's single-panel "Non Sequitur" comic for Oct. 3, which depicts a cheery, slightly surreal park scene, says: "Picture book title voted least likely to ever find a publisher. . . 'Where's Muhammad?'" according to the "Comic Riffs" column on the Washington Post website. "The Washington Post chose to run the 'Where's Muhammad?' comic in its online edition but not in its Sunday print funnies, running an 'Obvious-Man' replacement. Spokeswoman Kris Coratti said The Post had no comment on that decision."
- On Monday, Georgia Institute of Technology opened its the first FutureMedia Fest, a four-day "interactive 'mash-up' to explore and enable new paradigms in how content is created, distributed and consumed in a converging media world. . . .The four-day event will feature compelling keynote addresses, panel discussions, birds-of-a-feather workshops, demonstrations of the latest new media technologies, and presentations by startup companies, researchers and academics driving innovation."
- "On Saturday, more than 300 liberal groups representing thousands of people banded together on the National Mall in an effort to outshine August’s 'Restoring Honor' rally put on by Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck," Molly Stark Dean wrote Monday for TVNewser. "On his radio show this morning, Beck said he hired his own video crews to cover the rally talking to participants and shooting other video."
- In Asbury Park, N.J., "A crowd of about 700 people, comprised mostly of Tea Party supporters, gathered at Six Flags Great Adventure on Saturday to help kick off conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck's 'Restoring America' tour," Keith Ruscitti and Colleen Curry wrote Saturday for the Asbury Park Press. "Spectators paid $50 for a ticket or $125 for special VIP privileges to listen to speeches by various conservative and libertarian activists, radio talk-show hosts and musicians in a six-hour event."
- "Since 2005 the number of paid-for Indian daily newspaper titles has surged by 44% to 2,700, according to the World Association of Newspapers. That gives India more paid-for newspapers than any other country," the Economist reported on Sept. 23. "One reason why the internet has not yet started destroying Indian newspapers is that only 7% of Indians surf the web regularly. . . . The headlong growth of Indian newspapers is driven by rising literacy and a booming economy."
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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