CNN has fired anchor Rick Sanchez following a radio rant Thursday night where he called Jon Stewart a "bigot," blamed CNN brass for discrimination against him and insinuated that the media industry is controlled by Jews. The network announced Sanchez's dismissal in a statement early Friday evening:
“Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company. We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well,“ the statement said.
Sanchez's controversial interview occurred on the final day of his show in the 8 p.m. time slot, where he was replacing Campbell Brown, who departed in May. Angry about being replaced by CNN's new "Parker Spitzer" talk show and the constant jokes made at his expense on the "Daily Show," he lashed out on at his perceived enemies — CNN brass, Jon Stewart and Jews.
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.
Sanchez's controversial comments began when he suggested that he had been marginalized by CNN brass because they're "elite Northeastern establishment liberals" who won't let him anchor because they reserve the top jobs for "the high-profile white guys."
Here's what Sanchez had to say about his experiences with prejudice at CNN:
"It's not just the right that does this. 'Cause 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 ... White folks usually don't see it, but we do, those of us who are minorities ... 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 Jon Quinones.' You know, the guy on ABC. That's what he told me, he told me he saw me as Jon Quinones. 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's what you give the high profile white guys."
In his interview with Dominick, Sanchez went on to say that prejudice and discrimination "happen all the time" in the media establishment and he pointed at the "Daily Show."
"It happens all the time. I think to a certain extent, Jon Stewart and Colbert are the same way. I think Jon Stewart's a bigot ... Yeah, I think he'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."
When Dominick asked him to explain how Stewart is a "bigot" and to cite specific examples, Sanchez responded with general complaints that Stewart does not have a diverse guest list.
"I think Jon's show is essentially prejudicial ... against anybody who doesn't agree to his point of view, which is very much a white, Liberal establishment point of view. 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," Sanchez said.
Dominick, who was previously the "Daily Show's" warm-up comic, continued to press Sanchez for specific examples of bigoted conduct by Stewart.
Sanchez ended up attempting to back off the comments slightly. "I'll take the word 'bigot' back. I'll say prejudicial — uninformed," he said.
He also revealed the true reason for his hatred of the "Daily Show": Jon Stewart makes fun of him all the time. Sanchez said he believes his race is the thing that makes him a "target" for Stewart.
"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 when I watch Jon Stewart.
"I can't help but say ... and you just asked me why I wrote this book ... I wrote this book because I want people to know that I don't just sit there and read the teleprompter ... If I did just sit there and read off the teleprompter every day, Jon Stewart would never say anything about me. He'd say I'm a good Hispanic anchor. 'Way to go. You've done a good job. Stay right there.' I don't like that ... I am a complex human being. I'm not some some some moron … I'm tired of it."
Sanchez dug his hole even deeper when Dominick suggested that Stewart, who is Jewish, is also a minority. He laughed at the notion that Jews have experienced oppression and implied that they control CNN and other networks.
"Yeah, very powerless people. [laughs] 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?"
Sanchez has not responded to a request for comment.