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CNN's Rick Sanchez fired after explosive interview on satellite radio

By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, October 2, 2010; C01

CNN fired Rick Sanchez on Friday afternoon in response to a radio interview on a SiriusXM radio show during which Sanchez called Comedy Central late-night host Jon Stewart a "bigot" and implied that the media as a whole are controlled by Jews. Appearing on "Stand Up! With Pete Dominick" to promote his new book, "Conventional Idiocy," Sanchez went on to assert that he has been the victim of discrimination at the cable news network.

"Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company," the cable news network said in a statement. "We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well."

CNN, which changed its leadership last weekend, said it will telecast "CNN Newsroom" in Sanchez's 3 to 5 p.m. time slot "for the foreseeable future." The provocative anchor had been with CNN since September 2004.

During the lengthy, gasp-inducing interview with Dominick, the subject of Stewart came up; the late-night host often ridicules Sanchez on "The Daily Show." On the Sirius broadcast, Sanchez told Dominick, "I've known a lot of elite Northeast establishment liberals that may not use this as a business model, but 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," said Sanchez, who was born in Havana, according to the bio on CNN's Web site.

"Give me an example -- because you're Cuban American?" Dominick asked.

"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 -- ' "

"Will you wash this dish for me, Sanchez?" Dominick jumped in, offering a hypothetical insult.

"No, no, see that's the thing; it's more subtle," Sanchez responded.

"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." Sanchez paraphrased what he said a CNN executive had once said to him: "I really don't see you as an anchor, I see you more as a reporter. I see you more as a John QuiƱones -- you know, the guy on ABC. . . . Now, did he not realize that he was telling me. . . . An anchor is what you give the high-profile white guys, you know. . . . To a certain extent Jon Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert are the same way. I think Jon Stewart's a bigot."

Later in the interview, Dominick noted Stewart is Jewish, which he said is "a minority as much as you are."

"Very powerless people," Sanchez said, with a laugh. "He's such a minority, I mean, you know. . . . 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." In the audio, which circulated online Friday, Sanchez's sarcasm was evident.

During the Sirius interview, Sanchez told Dominick he was discussing Stewart because he was sick of "The Daily Show" host's repeated needling. One example of Stewart's derision came on March 2, when Stewart's show ran clips of Sanchez anchoring CNN's live coverage of a Chilean earthquake and the accompanying fears of a tsunami. In the clips, Sanchez is seen mistaking the Galapagos Islands for Hawaii and asking an expert to explain to him what nine meters means "in English." Stewart called CNN "the most trusted name in overcaffeinated control freaks," and Sanchez's photo was shown above an identifier that read "The Uninformant!"

"I just realized something," Stewart jabbed. "Rick Sanchez delivers the news like a guy at a party who's doing a lot of coke and traps you in a corner and explains really intensely how an ant is the strongest animal on Earth."

A rep for "The Daily Show" issued a "no comment" when contacted late Friday afternoon.

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