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NAHJ Clams Up on Rick Sanchez Firing

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Updated October 5

Others Compare Lou Dobbs' Fate, Assess Racism Claim

3 NAHJ Board Members Speak Individually About Sanchez

NABJ Finds Fewer Black Journalists in Middle Management

Desiree Rogers Brings "Rock Star" Persona to Johnson

Blogger Asks Democrats Whether She's Being Pimped

NBC Networks Lead in Interviews With Obama

Reporter Says Filmmaker in ACORN Case Planned Seduction

Short Takes

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.

Others Compare Lou Dobbs' Fate, Assess Racism Claim

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."

3 NAHJ Board Members Speak Individually About Sanchez

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]

NABJ Finds Fewer Black Journalists in Middle Management

Martin Reynolds 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 Brings "Rock Star" Persona to Johnson

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.

The New York Times ran six photos of Desirée Rogers, left, and Linda Johnson Rice (Credit: Fred R. Conrad/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."

In August, Rogers, 51, former White House social secretary, became CEO of Johnson Publishing Co., publishers of Ebony and Jet magazines and owner of Fashion Fair cosmetics.

"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.' "

Blogger Asks Democrats Whether She's Being Pimped

"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?

Why did I feel like I was being PIMPED, as opposed to being ENGAGED in the process?

"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.

NBC Networks Lead in Interviews With Obama

"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"

Reporter Says Filmmaker in ACORN Case Planned Seduction

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 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.

Short Takes

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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 provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. 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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Rich Sanchez: The Real News Story

Before Rick Sanchez devolved into the tirade that culminated in an anti-Semitic remark, he recounted a conversation he had with a senior CNN manager which was a particularly offensive instance of discrimination based upon race. While Mr. Sanchez' remarks were unprofessional, insensitive, and regrettable, the context of the remarks should be weighed, not to excuse such a reprehensible comment, but to examine the work environments to which many women and minorities are subjected everyday in many, many professions, not the least of which is television journalism. According to Mr. Sanchez, the top-level manager attempted to pidgeon-hole him into a role that he saw other Hispanic Americans occupuying, rather than the role Mr. Sanchez sought.  The manager's comment was not based upon Mr. Sanchez' ability to do the job, but, simply upon the manager's ill-conceived idea of the type of job that Mr. Sanchez should do based on nothing more than his race. The manager's conduct could possibly constitute an illegal hostile work environment based upon race. Now, there's the real news story.

No Hispanic Anchors at CNN. Why?

Isn't it odd for a so-called "diverse" news organization like CNN not to have ANY Hispanic anchors?  None!  Zilch!  14% of the US population is Hispanic, but they can't find one.


How about the infomercial show masquerading a "Reliable Sources" that slammed Sanchez.  See that?  They made no mention that Stewart opined Sanchez must be on "coke" for his energetic style.  Was that ok.  Oh, wait. That's right!  He is a comedian right?


The reluctance of Hispanic

The reluctance of Hispanic journalists to discuss the Sanchez saga is revealing but not surprising. I have observed the same passive and pc posturing by Black journalists, educators, lawyers, real estate and professionals who have experienced bigtory and racism from various aspects within the jewish community.

Too often people of color remain silent when liberals express contempt for them. Stewart is an elitist, and in some venues that is as negative as being a bigot.

Tribalism exists even even in venues where we least expect it.

Carole Simpson's comments on Reliable Sources about Rick Sanchez

From Esa Mujer:

RE: Carole Simpson's comments on Reliable Sources about Rick Sanchez and how you wouldn't know by looking at him that he was Cuban American. Please tell her that Hispanics come in all colors. Hispanic is NOT A RACE! It is an ethnicity. Therefore, there are black Hispanics, white Hispanics, Asian Hispanics and so forth and so on...

Sanchez Dust Up

 Reinstated? Why? For more of his pompous, blowhard self-righteousness? Yeah, I guess so. Since he should never have been sacked to begin with. I reckon CNN was itching to throw him under the bus all along -- and this was just as good an excuse as any. Otherwise, why was he fired BEFORE there was any righteous indignation from the usual suspects? The USUAL scenario. Richard CARRENO, The Philadelphia Junto.

The Hypocrisy of Rick Sanchez's firing

I was stunned at Rick Sanchez's sudden dismissal. I had just started to watch CNN ( again ) on the heels of shying away from their content and various time slots. I had also recently read an article which cited their dropping ratings - and at the same time suddenly discovered "Rick's List" - a refreshing new format on many levels.  As somebody with a Journalism degree and background, I grew tired of the hashing to death of a given (same) news story  - this despite my allegiance to CNN for not being too far right or too left in general terms; but with what was perhaps the closest format to objectivity I know of in broadcast media news.

I was very much drawn to "Rick's List" because it was a long awaited break from the monotony that was somehow emerging with CNN's overall format - not to mention other news venues. I'm also surprised that a historically ground-breaking entity such as CNN did not simply say: "Listen you are exercising your First Amendment Rights, but we need to talk, clarify, and perhaps come to a meeting of the minds here..."  This, after an especially long working relationship. I believe in that scenario both would have emerged triumphant and had the better PR that everyone seeks in reality in 2010.

The contrived and extremely cold wording in Mr. Sanchez's dismissal left me questioning what is going on in the Fourth Estate?  I have friends who have worked in media - including myself - in different capacities; and have witnessed first hand that there is an element of truth - indeed - to what Mr. Sanchez was trying to articulate. The reality is that the colorful manner in which he delivered the point is what one is trained to do to get & keep the viewer's attention, and churn the coffers of controversy that garner ratings. 

I do hope - and consequently firmly believe - that there are open-minded folks out there; and I also hope that Mr. Sanchez gets to read this particular point of view for solace and to fight the good fight of faith. The bottom line is that if there is any injustice whatsoever - in a time when we as citizens of a "more perfect union" should be sticking together - is the elephant in the room being ignored?  To me...the handling of  this matter doesn't take anyone's attention away from the abrupt and indifferent discharge of Mr. Sanchez, but simply puts a magnifying glass on the elephant's seemingly duncical skin...making me - and countless other Americans...I'm sure...feel all the more like outsiders; but refusing to be defeated or silenced in the face of what our Founding Fathers would have wanted - Free Speech...not to mention justice.

NB: Rick Sanchez Apologizes; But Why Did the NAHJ Say Nothing?

Rick Sanchez Apologizes; But Why Did the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Say Nothing to Press In Protest?

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