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Rick Sanchez Joins Helen Thomas and Octavia Nasr - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There has been a wave of slip-ups made live-on-air by prominent media figures, who in a moment of passion reveal their personal view or stance – and most importantly their anger – forgetting that what they are saying is being recorded for posterity and could be used against them in the future.

The issue becomes even more complex when the slip-up is made by a person who has lost their temper and gotten involved in a bitter racial or religious argument, especially considering America’s complex social structure. It seems that former CNN news correspondent Rick Sanchez did not learn the lesson from what befell veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, whose career ended dramatically following negative reactions to comments she made against Israel, displaying her sympathy with the plight of the Palestinians; comments that were later deemed to be racist. A similar situation occurred when Octavia Nasr was also dismissed from CNN after she issued a public statement of respect via Twitter for the late Lebanese Shiite Cleric Mohammed Hussein Falallah.

Sanchez criticized famous US satirist and TV host, Jon Stewart, accusing him of being a racist. Sanchez also accused CNN and the majority of American media networks of being controlled by the Jews. Of course Sanchez was immediately fired by CNN, and perhaps one of the funniest observations to this incident came from somebody who commented on this, writing:

Sanchez: The Jews control the media!

The Jews: No, we don’t…and you’re fired!

Following Sanchez’s comments, dozens of articles and comments accused him of racism. Although Sanchez was unsuccessful in getting his opinion across, the manner in which others reacted to his slip-up was no less surprising! Some people did not hesitate to mock the American correspondent’s Cuban origins, presenting stereotyped views that Latinos are “stupid and lazy.”

Stewart, who was outraged by Sanchez’s comments, had previously poked fun at the Cuban-American anchor on a number of occasions, portraying him as stupid or ill-informed.

My goal here is not to echo the satirical or angry statements exchanged by top American television hosts, however I must point out that the strong reaction received by any negative portrayal of the Jews [in America] is strange, especially when the reaction to other ethnic groups being targeted in the same manner receives far less reaction.

About three months ago, American radio host, Laura Schlessinger, who used to present the “Dr’ Laura Program” resigned after expressing views that were deemed to be racist against African-Americans. However Schlessinger was not fired in the same manner as Sanchez, Nasr, and Thomas, but rather allowed to save face by resigning. This was despite the fact that Laura Schlessinger has been accused of racism against Muslims and African-Americans before this, although she managed to hold onto her job. However her latest comments were deemed to be so derogatory and inflammatory that she had no choice but to resign.

Sanchez might have been hasty in making a comment about the Jews controlling American media, but the hasty manner in which he was fired from a giant media corporation like CNN does not help in shaking the convictions of those who believe what he said.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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