The Nation: Tasing Rick Sanchez, Bullying & Double Standards

Less than two weeks after CNN let Rick go, Leslie Savan, a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, wrote an excellent and thoughtful piece in The Nation.

She argues that what Rick went through was nothing less than a “public bullying,”  and adding insult to injury, it was capped off with a glaring double standard on the part of CNN.  CNN unceremoniously fired Rick in a day “…for remarks perceived as anti-Semitic or anti-Israel (Sanchez isn’t the first), while dithering for years before dumping Lou Dobbs, who railed against Latino immigrants in terms at least as insulting again and again.”  It was what Savan calls a glaring double standard.

Savan focused on the subject of bullying, something which has been reported on a great deal lately.  She goes back to Rick’s original radio interview which started all this and points out that Rick himself—in a moment of unguarded honesty and candor—shared what had made him think Jon Stewart was a bigot:  “That’s what happens when you watch yourself on his show every day, and all they ever do is call you stupid.”  And there was emotion behind Rick’s words.

Jon Stewart is a brilliant satirist.  He helps further the political and intellectual debate in this country, whether it’s a rally to “restore sanity” or stepping in and shining a spotlight on Congress’ failure to pass a bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders.  Jon Stewart, through his show and in the tradition of Murrow and Cronkite, helped get that bill passed.

While Rick was wrong in accusing Jon of being a bigot, let’s at least for a moment focus on the rest of what Rick said.  Savan states that, as funny as it may have been to some, Rick didn’t deserve the treatment he got day in and day out on The Daily Show.

Sanchez is… not a Limbaugh, a Rove, or even a Jim Kramer. He’s not extreme. He appears to be politically moderate, even somewhat progressive, and can be a damn good reporter (as Josh Marshall writes, Sanchez is “basically the only on-air journalist who’s ever actually grilled or even put some pointed questions to disgraced Sen. John Ensign”). In fact, he’s pretty much one of Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity types.

This is an excellent piece that, more than most others, helps shed light on where our public discourse has gone and how damaging it can ultimately be.  For more of Ms. Savan’s piece, please click here.