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An Ex-CNN Anchor's Definition of Bigotry

A Commentary by Debra J.Saunders

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Last week, CNN fired anchor Rick Sanchez after he called Jon Stewart a bigot in a radio interview during which he also questioned whether Jews face discrimination. Quoth Sanchez, "Everyone 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."

Implying that Jews run the media is the sort of boneheaded anti-Semitic slur that rates a firing, to be sure. In fact, it's so outrageous that you'd think it wouldn't matter that Sanchez called Stewart a bigot.

Yet the Stewart angle has dominated this story because, well, you don't call a liberal a bigot.

You can call conservatives bigots, and people hardly notice. Indeed, Sanchez equated Stewart and Stephen Colbert to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, calling them all "very prejudicial." No biggie.

But to call a liberal comedian a bigot, to say that he represents "a white, liberal establishment point of view," well, that's just not done.

Meanwhile in California, GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman is getting grilled because she didn't assume that her immigrant housekeeper was a liar.

In 2003, the Social Security Administration sent Whitman and her husband a letter that indicated the Social Security number given by Nicandra Diaz Santillan did not match her name. Rather than interrogate Diaz and demand another look at her papers, the couple asked Diaz to clear the problem up. I mention this simply as the latest example of the double standard when it comes to issues involving minorities: No matter what they do, conservatives can't win and liberals can't lose.

Back to Sanchez. His problem always has been that he's a gaffe machine. He's the anchor who marveled at the Iceland volcano, saying, "You think it's too cold to have a volcano there." He once read out loud instructions telling him to ad-lib. You can guess how he mispronounced "annals."

With those whoppers, of course Stewart made fun of Sanchez. Even President Obama made fun of Sanchez's volcano blunder at May's White House Correspondents' Dinner.

If he were a savvier individual, Sanchez would at least pretend to have a sense of humor about his slip-ups. Instead, Sanchez turned to the more alluring view that, as a Cuban American, he is a victim of prejudice.

In the past, this habit never hurt his career.

You could hear the personal pain when Sanchez explained, "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 ... jock or a dumb woman or a dumb Puerto Rican or a dumb Cuban or another dumb Mexican, which is the way I feel whenever I watch Jon Stewart."

At one point, an amazed Pete Dominick reminded Sanchez that Stewart is "on the same side as you on immigration." Dominick also asked Sanchez why he was being "so sensitive." Dominick simply couldn't get over Sanchez calling a liberal prejudiced.

Guess what. It sucks. Even when it isn't true. Even when the target invited the ridicule. Even when the self-styled victim doesn't hire Gloria Allred.

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