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.”
That’s when Sanchez really let his feelings loose: “I think to some extent Jon Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert are the same way. I think Jon Stewart’s a bigot.“
Pete noted that Stewart is his former boss, and pressed Sanchez to explain himself further. “How is he a bigot?” Pete asked.
I think he looks at the world through, his mom, who was a school teacher, 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 you could ever imagine.
Pete pressed, “What group is he bigoted towards?”
Sanchez replied: “Everybody else who’s not like him. Look at his show, I mean, what does he surround himself with?”
Pete asked for a specific example, saying the term “bigot” is pretty strong.
“That’s what happens when you watch yourself on his show every day, and all they ever do is call you stupid.”
Asked again what group Stewart is bigoted against, Sanchez replied, referring to Stewart in the second person:
Anybody who’s different than you are, anybody who’s not form your frame of reference; anybody who doesn’t look and sound exactly like the people that you sound [like] and grew up with. The people that you put on your show, who always reflect somebody who’s, “I’m bringing in to sit around me,” you know, who’s very different from me. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy this thing that the only people out there who are prejudiced… are the Right. There’s people that are prejudiced on both sides.
Sanchez went on to claim that Stewart’s worldview is “very much a white, liberal establishment point of view.” Sanchez added:
He can’t relate to a guy like me. He can’t relate to a guy whose dad worked all his life. He can’t relate to somebody who grew up poor.
Inexplicably, Sanchez argued, “If we’re gonna call one side bigoted, we probably gotta look at the other side and say the same thing.” This, of course, does not stand to reason in the slightest, but Pete noted that he agreed racism and prejudice are not the exclusive domain of conservatives, which Pete has stated countless times on the air.
At the end of the first exchange of the day about Stewart’s alleged bigotry, Pete pushed Rick to back off a bit, and Sanchez eventually conceded:
All right, I’ll take the word bigot back; I’ll say prejudicial [sic] — uninformed.
Later in the interview, Sanchez pushed the discussion again, returning to the idea that Stewart is “prejudiced,” though again backing away from the word “bigot.”
If I did just sit there and read the teleprompter every day, Jon Stewart would never say a word about me. He’d say I’m a good Hispanic anchor, “Way to go, you’ve done a good job, stay right there.” … I am a complex human being, I’m not some moron to be…”
At least part of Sanchez’s gripe with Stewart, he said, is that Stewart picks on Sanchez for superficial on-air failings instead of substantial offenses like those committed by Fox News personalities, and the Daily Show does this in order to be seen as criticizing CNN as much as it criticizes Fox News Channel. (Regular watchers of The Daily Show know that Fox takes far more of Stewart’s media-savvy ribbing than CNN does, but Sanchez claimed Stewart sought parity in comedically critiquing the two leading cable news operations.)
Here’s what they do. This is the game they play. “I just picked on Fox News, because they just had a bold-faced [sic] lie about something — damnit, that means I gotta find something on CNN. Oh, I know… wait, hold on, let me find, oh that Rick Sanchez, that little Puerto Rican guy. I’ll make fun of him. Do you have anything.” “Uh, yeah, last week, he mispronounced the word indutably or whatever.” “Yeah, that’s it, find me that and we’ll do a whole 4-minute segment on how he mispronounced the word arithmetic.”
When Pete defended Jon Stewart as “just a comedian,” Sanchez shot back, “That’s a cop-out.” (I happen to agree with Sanchez on that one.)
When Pete suggested Jews (such as Stewart) have at least some sense of what it’s like to be an oppressed minority, Sanchez seemed to make the claim that Jews run CNN and the news business in general and that Stewart thus did not in fact know what it was like to feel the sting of prejudice.
“Yeah,” Sanchez snickered sarcastically at the idea that Jews are as much minorities as Latinos in the US.
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]
That’s right, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez basically suggested that Jews have run the media.
Pete asked, “They can’t relate to that? A Jewish person doesn’t have a constant fear in the back of their head that we could [inaudible] the Holocaust?”
“I think his father could,” Sanchez replied, referring to Stewart.
“I think every Jewish person feels that way,” Pete said.
“I hope so,” Sanchez responded.
Sanchez also suggested Jews in general, at least of his generation or younger, are not discriminated against, though they might hear the occasional Jew joke now and again.
I grew up not speaking English, dealing with real prejudice every day as a kid; watching my dad work in a factory, wash dishes, drive a truck, get spit on. I’ve been told that I can’t do certain things in life simply because I was a Hispanic. My friends who are black, I’ve seen that with them; I’ve seen that with a lot of minorities. I can’t really think — although I understand the plight of Jews, and all the experiences, and the things that have happened historically for them — but I can’t say that my buddy Glen or my buddy Izzy who I grew up with in South Florida ever were prejudiced against directly simply because they were Jewish. There may have been jokes around them or about other things, but it’s kinda — you know what I’m saying, it’s kind of a different thing.
“No, I don’t,” Pete replied.
“I can’t see somebody not getting a job somewhere because they’re Jewish,” Sanchez added.
“Well, then you’ve never been to Nebraska,” Pete shot back to lighten the mood.
Returning once again to his criticism of the Daily Show host, near the end of the exchange, Sanchez concluded about Stewart: “I don’t respect the guy.”
I happen to have a fairly similar background to Sanchez in a number of ways. Now it’s always dangerous to generalize about other peoples’ lives on the basis of one’s own experiences, but with that nuanced scholarly caveat in mind, I’m calling bullshit. Not just on the obviously hysterical Protocols of the Elders of Zion stuff here, but on Sanchez’s all but explicit claim that he’s a discriminated-against minority while Jon Stewart is not just a white guy, but an especially privileged white guy (because he’s a Jew and Jews run the media etc).
Look Rick, in America in 2010 you and me are basically white guys — just like Jon Stewart. Now I’m not doubting that somebody somewhere has said or done something nasty to you because of your last name (which is the only thing that would ever signal to anybody that you might have had trouble joining the New York Athletic Club in 1965), but you’re white. Comparing your life experiences to those of black people in the deep South is preposterous. It’s unfortunate that a CNN pooh bah once said something tactless to you, but if that’s your best example of what sort of things you’ve had to overcome as a “minority” in America, then I suggest you might ask yourself why your last name is still Sanchez while Jon Stuart Leibowitz’s is now Stewart.