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CNN Fires Anchor Rick Sanchez

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Action Follows Comments on His Bosses, Jews, Jon Stewart

Poverty Figures Lead to Wealth of Stories, but Who's Listening?

NAHJ Removes Student Representative From Board

Will Disclosure of News Corp. Donation Make a Difference?

Gay Journalists Caution on Word Usage in Eddie Long Case

Marc Watts, Diann Burns Leaving Chicago for L.A.

L.A. Times Defends Teacher Ratings in Wake of Suicide

LeBron, Manager See Race as "Always" a Factor in Coverage

With Juxtaposition, What Is TMZ "Just Sayin' "?

Short Takes

Action Follows Comments on His Bosses, Jews, Jon Stewart

CNN announced Friday that "Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company" after the anchor "lashed out on Thursday at his perceived enemies — CNN brass, Jon Stewart and Jews," in the words of Hunter Walker, writing earlier in the day for the Wrap. 

Rick Sanchez"Sanchez went on Pete Dominick's Sirius XM show to promote his new book, 'Conventional Idiocy.' While on air, he called Stewart a 'bigot,' implied that CNN is controlled by Jews and that the network passed him over for promotion because he's Latino," Walker wrote.

"Sanchez was chosen to fill in on CNN at 8 p.m. in the wake of Campbell Brown's departure in May, but put 'Parker Spitzer,' in the coveted slot permanently. Starring Elliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker, 'Parker Spitzer,' debuts on Monday. CNN insiders have told TheWrap that Sanchez, who is Cuban-American, feels he has been passed over and blamed the decision not to give him 8 p.m. on a permanent basis on his race."

In a terse statement made available late Friday to Journal-isms, CNN said, "Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company. We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well."

Dominick's website explained:

"First, Sanchez started out expressing an anecdote from his own experience, when someone who was 'top brass' at CNN told Sanchez to his face that he saw Sanchez as 'more as John Quiñones,' referring to the Hispanic ABC News reporter. Sanchez’s example was an illustration that the problem of racism in the media business goes further than many expect, enveloping 'not just the Right,' but also 'elite, Northeast establishment liberals' that 'deep down, when they look at a guy like me, they see a guy automatically who belongs in the second tier, and not the top tier.' " Later, Sanchez said, "All right, I’ll take the word bigot back; I’ll say prejudicial — uninformed."

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.' "

Sanchez has plenty of company in questioning the choice of the disgraced Spitzer, and the National Association of Black Journalists has also asked why no anchors of color are in the prime-time CNN lineup.

"The company missed another opportunity to place a person of color in prime time," NABJ said in June after Spitzer was named. "It just seems that cable news can never find diverse candidates who are good enough to meet their standards. We want to know your standards."

Nicholas Carlson of the Business Insider wrote Friday that Sanchez's "Rick's List" was drawing a tiny audience at 8 p.m., according to the latest Nielsen ratings.

"In August, 'Rick's List' averaged 452,000 viewers each night and just 127,000 each night in the 25 to 54 age group."

Elan Steinberg, vice president of American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, said in a statement:

"Shame on Rick Sanchez! His public feud with Jon Stewart does not give him license to malign the Jewish people with a classical retread of anti-Semitic bigotry.

"As survivors of the ultimate expression of such racist stereotyping, we believe Mr. Sanchez spoke with insensitive thoughtlessness rather than calculated hate. Nevertheless, his words are deeply offensive and shocking.

"He should immediately retract his heinous comments and apologize for them."

On NPR, media reporter David Folkenflik said he had spoken with former CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein, who is Jewish and was ousted just last week. Klein said he and Sanchez had a "friendly and warm relationship," Folkenflik reported.

Guthrie's piece continued, "It’s the Howard Beale era. And Sanchez’s conversation with Dominic is in keeping with what seems like universal epidemic of fear and loathing brought on by the recession. And while the media in general long ago has shed much pretense toward civility, this is one angry rant that CNN did not need at this time.

"It’s new president Ken Jautz’s first week on the job at CNN. . . ."

TVNewser added:

"Jautz, who has been CNN/U.S. president for a week, is not Jewish. But he’s probably really pissed right now."

According to his CNN bio, "Sanchez, born in Havana, Cuba, frequently reports while interviewing newsmakers simultaneously in both Spanish and English. He has reported live from Cuba numerous times and has interviewed Fidel Castro as well as his sister, Juanita Castro. Sanchez has interviewed several other prominent newsmakers, including First Lady Laura Bush, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, U.S.S.R. Grand Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, General Manuel Noriega behind bars, deposed Honduran President José Manuel Zelaya via satellite from his exile location at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, among others.

"Sanchez has been a weekend and a weekday anchor for CNN. In 2008, he became the first national anchor to regularly incorporate social media in his news gathering and broadcasts.

"Prior to joining CNN, Sanchez was an anchor for WTVJ-TV, and an interim anchor for WBZL-TV, both in Miami. Prior to his tenure at WTVJ-TV, he worked for two years as a correspondent and anchor for MSNBC. Sanchez joined MSNBC in 2001 as a correspondent and delivered breaking news updates for CNBC and regularly reported for NBC radio."

His "Rick's List" began on CNN on Jan. 18. CNN moved "The Situation Room" an hour later to make room for it.

Erica, 11, is a victim of her mother's drug addiction in ''A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains: Diane Sawyer Reports on America's Children Living in Poverty in Appalachia," an ABC-TV '"20/20'" program that won a  Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award this year. (Video)

Poverty Stats Spawn Wealth of Stories, but Who's Listening?

The Census Bureau handed media organizations guaranteed fodder for local stories in September with new reports on the extent of poverty in America. Local reporters and editorial pages seized on the figures but were forced to concede there was no guarantee that government would act to alleviate them.

"With the country in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, four million additional Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, with the total reaching 44 million, or one in seven residents," Erik Eckholm reported Sept. 16 in the New York Times. "Millions more were surviving only because of expanded unemployment insurance and other assistance.

"The share of residents in poverty climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest level recorded since 1994. The rise was steepest for children, with one in five affected, the bureau said."

On Tuesday came the bureau's 2009 American Community Survey, with something for each locality: "The number of Stark County children who lived in poverty last year easily could fill the classroom seats in the Canton City, North Canton, Jackson Local and Osnaburg Local school districts — combined," Kelli Young wrote in the Canton (Ohio) Repository.

"And a handful of them still would have had to stand in the back."

Gayle Beck, editorial page editor, told Journal-isms that the paper linked the story to its recent four-part series on “The New Poor.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel devoted all of its editorial-column space to the subject. It was already running a series "on poverty, its consequences and ideas to fight it." "How often have you heard someone say it? 'At least we're not Detroit,' " the editorial began. While those people might be right, it concluded, "that's not good enough."

The Philadelphia Inquirer commented on the city's ranking. "It’s no surprise to see Philadelphia listed as the poorest among America’s 10 largest cities," an editorial slated for Saturday begins. "It’s held that distinction before. But placing last again is disappointing, and points out the need for public officials to work even harder to create jobs."

The figures enable the beholder to assess them from other demographic vantage points. "The roots of Women's eNews are embedded in the media's coverage of the 1996 welfare law. The ferocious campaign led by Newt Gingrich and joined by President Bill Clinton promised to end 'welfare as we know it.' And it certainly did. The results are apparent and clearly predictable: Recent Census data indicate single mothers' poverty dramatically increased during the current recession and is expected to continue to rise — with the corollary that 1-in-5 U.S. children are living below the poverty line," wrote Women's eNews. 

Economist Julianne Malveaux, who is African American, noted in her column for the National Newspaper Publishers Association that the black poverty rate rose from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent. "The rate for Hispanics rose from 23.2 percent to 25.1 percent. African Americans have the highest poverty rate of any racial ethnic group. In contrast, the rate for non-Hispanic whites is 9.4 percent, less than half the rate for African Americans."

Policy prescriptions followed. The report "strengthens the argument for letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2010 for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans," editorialized the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. "In 2009, according to census figures, the income gap between the nation's richest and poorest citizens reached its widest margin ever."

In truth, poverty is such an evergreen it doesn't need new census figures to prompt coverage. Even journalists are affected. At the RFK Journalism Awards, which honor work on human rights, social justice, and other concerns of the late Robert F. Kennedy, entries were down by about 100 this year, to about 270, according to spokeswoman Simone Greggs. She attributed the decline to the growing number of out-of-work journalists.

Still, she said, poverty in the broadest sense — including human trafficking, crime and other collateral issues — is a recurring topic. And in this multimedia age, news organizations are collaborating to come up with new tools to tell these stories.

The question is, who is listening?

When the Sept. 16 figures were released, Michael A. Fletcher wrote in the Washington Post:

"Deborah Weinstein, a longtime advocate for the poor, calls the news that one in seven Americans is living in poverty 'a national emergency.'

"But for much of Washington's political class, the shocking new poverty numbers provoked not alarm about the poor but further debate over tax cuts for the middle class."

NAHJ Removes Student Representative From Board

Jacqueline Guzmán-GarcíaThe National Association of Hispanic Journalists voted 9-0 to immediately remove its student board representative, Jacqueline Guzmán-García, association President Michele Salcedo wrote on Friday.

The board acknowledged that it was responsible for allowing Guzman-Garcia on the ballot when she was attending California State University, Northridge part time, not full time as the bylaws require. She defeated two other candidates.

"Numerous requests to Guzmán-García to resign, as required by the bylaws so that the board might appoint a successor, were rejected," Salcedo wrote to NAHJ members.

"As a result of today’s action, for the first time since 2002, students will not have a voice on the national board. We are considering several options to mitigate this void, including establishing a student affairs committee."

Will Disclosure of News Corp. Donation Make a Difference?

"Will this week mark the beginning of a new phase in the way that Fox News is perceived by the rest of the media, and perhaps ultimately the public too? As surprising as that sounds, it seems plausible," Zachary Roth wrote Friday for the Columbia Journalism Review.

"Politico’s Ben Smith reported yesterday that News Corporation, Fox’s parent company, had donated $1 million to the Chamber of Commerce, the business lobby that’s shaping up as the single most important outside backer of Republican candidates this election cycle. That news came on the heels of another $1 million contribution by News Corp., this one to the Republican Governors Association.

"Until now, the rest of the media has largely treated Fox News as one of its own. When the issue of Fox’s ideological agenda has periodically come to the surface — generally when the Obama White House has decided to make an issue of it — other reporters, particularly those in the Washington press corps, have tended to come to Fox’s defense. They’ve pointed out that Major Garrett, until August the network’s White House correspondent, is fair, and that it’s unseemly and (the biggest dodge of all) politically unwise, for the White House to go after the press. And mainstream print outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press still can’t bring themselves to flatly refer to Fox’s ideological agenda, instead relying on versions of the tried-and-true 'critics say,' formulation.

"But in giving $2 million to GOP-affiliated groups this cycle, Fox has largely dropped the pretense (and yes, other companies, like GE, that own big media outlets have made political contributions before, but not on anything like this scale.)"

Gay Journalists Caution on Word Usage in Eddie Long Case

"The gay sex scandal swirling around the Atlanta area’s Bishop Eddie Long has brought to the forefront coverage issues journalists wrestle with when writing about a complex and complicated story," Matthew S. Bajko wrote Thursday for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

"To date four men have come forward claiming that when they were in their late teens and members of Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the bishop allegedly seduced them into sexual activity in exchange for expensive gifts and trips around the world. Long and his attorneys have denied the charges.

"The problem for the media is with the word choices reporters and editors make in telling the story. At times, some news outlets have stumbled and chosen language that appears to conflate the allegations, while others have been more careful in how they report the story.

"In its article published September 21 the New York Times labeled Long’s actions 'sexual misconduct' and said two men had accused him of 'repeatedly coerced them into having sex with him.' The Associated Press also chose the word 'coerce' in its first story about the lawsuits filed by the men.

"Yet various online sites, from the website to The Advocate, used the word 'forced' in their headlines and postings about the scandal last week . . . ."

Agent Marc Watts, anchor Diann Burns, their son Ryan Watts, then 8, and their 13-room Chicago home were the subjects of a piece by Lynn Norment in Ebony magazine's August 2005 issue. (Credit: Vandell Cobb/Ebony)

Marc Watts, Diann Burns Leaving Chicago for L.A.

"Former local news anchor Diann Burns and her husband, Marc Watts, an agent, business manager and media trainer, are planning to relocate to the West Coast," columnist Lewis Lazare wrote Friday in the Chicago Sun-Times.

" 'Diann, my son and I sat down and talked about it, and this seemed to make the most sense for us now,' said Watts, who indicated much of his work takes him regularly to the Los Angeles area. Among other things, Watts spends considerable time now running TV and radio talent [Roland Martin's] production company New Vision Media out of Los Angeles. Watts also works with a Santa Monica-based firm called Comment PR, which trains professional athletes to deal with the media. . . .

"Watts, who serves as his wife's agent, said Burns would likely have more opportunities to work again in television news in California, where he said she could explore new jobs in local or network news or with a TV production company. Burns was a popular news anchor for 18 years on top-rated WLS-Channel 7 before jumping in 2003 to CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, where her contract was not renewed in 2008. . . .

"Watts has put the family's 13-room Lincoln Park home on the market for $4.8 million."

L.A. Times Defends Teacher Ratings in Wake of Suicide

Rigoberto Ruelas"The Los Angeles Times has brought into the public eye a topic once debated mostly by policy analysts and bureaucrats: the evaluation of classroom teachers. And it did so with maximum splash, by publishing the names and effectiveness ratings of 6,000 elementary school teachers based on its analysis of students' test score data," Katy Murphy wrote Tuesday for the Oakland (Calif.) Tribune.

"In the weeks since, the newspaper has been vilified and praised for its decision to publish those names. And on Monday, before a lively audience gathered at UC Berkeley, L.A. Times reporter Jason Felch shared the newspaper's motivations for doing so — as well as plans for further analysis of the raw data obtained from the Los Angeles school district through public records requests.

" 'There is a culture, not just in Los Angeles schools but across the country, where differences in instruction are ignored,' Felch said.

" 'As a result, Felch said, not only do bad apples remain in the classroom, but few teachers receive the help or feedback they need to improve.' . . .

"On Sunday, police found the body of a fifth-grade Los Angeles Unified teacher, 39-year-old Rigoberto Ruelas, under a bridge. While it's not clear what caused Ruelas to take his life, his teachers union — which had previously organized a boycott of the L.A. Times — demanded the database come down. Ruelas had received a slightly below-average overall rating. The L.A. Times published a statement on Sunday evening, extending its condolences to the family.

"Anthony Cody, a former Oakland middle schoolteacher who now serves as a mentor in the district, said that while evaluations must improve, the series was an example of a growing hostility to teachers.

"He may be the first casualty in America's war on teachers," Cody said of Ruelas.

In covering the memorial service, Brian Watt wrote for Southern California Public Radio, "By all accounts, Rigoberto Ruelas put in a lot of hours. He arrived at school early, stayed late. He visited students’ homes to meet their families, bringing groceries if they were in need — even a mattress for a kid he learned had to sleep on the floor."  

"But little of that showed up in the numbers. . . .

"A few hours before the memorial service began, the L.A. Unified School District confirmed that Rigoberto Ruelas was a very effective teacher. Deputy Superintendent John Deasy released a statement saying that in his final evaluation with the District, Ruelas had earned a great performance ranking.

" 'The epitaph of Rigoberto Ruelas should not be "less-than-effective," ' the statement said."

LeBron, Manager See Race as "Always" a Factor in Coverage

"LeBron James and his manager say they believe race played a factor in how the two-time reigning NBA MVP's decision to join the Miami Heat was covered this summer," ESPN reported.

"Neither James nor his manager, Maverick Carter, cited specifics when talking to CNN for a story that aired Wednesday night.

"James did not want to spend much time on the subject after Thursday's Heat practice.

" 'I think people are looking too far into it,' James said. 'But at the same time, sometimes it does play a part in it. I've said what I had to say, and I'll continue to move on.' "

"In the interview, CNN correspondent Soledad O'Brien asked about 'The Decision,' the one-hour special on ESPN in which James announced that he would play for the Heat, and some of the negative headlines it generated.

" 'It's just about control and not doing it the way it's always been done or not looking the way that it always looks,' Carter said.

"O'Brien asked if race played a role.

" 'I think so at times,' James said. 'It's always, you know, a race factor.'

"Said Carter: 'It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure.' "

TMZ's caption read, "Here's Meg Whitman's undocumented former housekeeper Nicky Diaz Santillan at her Gloria Allred press conference on Wednesday (left) — and 'Jersey Shore' tantastic party girl Snooki in her booking photo back in July (right)."

With Juxtaposition, What Is TMZ "Just Sayin' "?

"Yesterday, posted a piece under the WE’RE JUST SAYIN’ section of their website, which emits a dubious xenophobic and racially charged tone," Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano wrote Thursday for the website.

"The post features a photograph of emotionally distraught Nicky Díaz Santillán (California Gubernatorial Candidate Meg Whitman’s former housekeeper) juxtaposed with a photograph of an arrested Jersey Shore star Nicole Polizzi, aka Snooki. The placement of the two photographs disturbingly suggests an immediate similarity between the two."

"However, it was not enough to suggest that a distraught Latina has something in common with a woman being arrested. The folks at TMZ further outdo themselves by adding the following lines under the photographs:

" ' Neither was born in the United States.'

"We're just sayin'. "

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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Sanchez forces journalists to ask critical question: Is he right

Let's forget Sanchez's personal characterization of The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart. His notion that Stewart is a bigot is obviously a subjective perspective and likely irrelevant to the issue of his firing at CNN.

His strong suggestion that Jews are the decision-makers in the executive positions at most major media companies is the issue. And within 24 hours of making the statement, Sanchez was fired by CNN.

The question is: Why?

The next question is: Is Sanchez correct or incorrect?

The third question is: Are journalists asking these questions?

The public can exhibit outrage on any issue for any reason it desires. But journalists ought to delve a bit deeper and ask the fundamental question: Is it true?

The New York Times ran an eye-opening article in May 2010 that spotlighted the income of media owners and execs as HIGHER than the bank execs who were being demonized by media and the public. Yet, media companies have gone through an infamous economic freefall over the past couple of years ... while top execs were raking it in:

Media Owners lists the top 20 major media companies in the nation and their top officer.

So where is the just-the-facts-ma'am response to Sanchez's charge?

It's not wrong to suggest that media are run by decision-makers who are Jews, if that is true. It would not be wrong to say Disney is run by CEO Robert Iger, who is Jewish.

So, is Sanchez accurate?

And does anyone know the real reason CNN fired him?  

The Hypocrisy of Rick Sanchez's Dismissal

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 -while at the same time suddenly discovering "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 integral to the redundant format these days vs. covering breaking news. 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 at the present.

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 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 all the more - 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.

Ricardo Sanchez Hits the Glass Ceiling

Sanchez was out of line, and even if one agrees with his characterization of the media, and even knowing the industry as he does, he was asking for trouble by running his big mouth. I have no sympathy for him, because let's face it; as long as "Ricardo" was a CNN anchor, he was perfectly happy to work for the same "White Liberal Establishment" he castigated the media bosses and Jon Stewart for belonging to.

Really, this can't be seen in any other way as a house negro getting turned out for telling the family secrets. Sanchez's tremendous ego couldn't handle getting booted from his anchor chair so he couldn't wait to tell the world about it.

But I get it. Ricardo has an ego. You have to have an ego to achieve as much as he did. He hit his Glass Ceiling. Women and all people of color are gonna hit that. There will be glass ceilings as long as there are white plantation owners, house negroes and field negroes. Capitalism is such a wonderful thing. 

The question I have is why wasn't Ricardo fired before now? He is the same guy that called Obama the "cotton-picking President." Nice one, Ricardo. Makes your racial victimization trope hard to swallow. Problem is you bit the and that generously fed you. You were part of their design when they gave you the job and when they took it away. How did you not get that? Oh, that's right; ego. 

But did he have to drag the Jews or Jon Stewart into this? Did he not realize he was no match for either? People, you can hate on the Jews if you want. But they figured out a interesting thing a long time ago: if you keep your family and money together, you can do some damage in the world even if existing in extremely small numbers. We should be doing the same, or at least realize that the media's only job is to distract us with programmed desires for cheap electronics and other irrelevancies in order to keep us fat and satisfied while someone else moves the cheese. But who's going to report that?


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