The month of October brought us the high profile firings of two journalists, Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez. Both of these men were fired for ethnically insensitive comments. Their stories are similar but have some interesting differences. Rick Sanchez was born in Cuba and raised in the Miami area. He began his career as a journalist while still in college and joined CNN in 2004. He has written one book, “Conventional Idiocy.” Juan Williams was born in Panama and grew up in New York. He also began his career as a journalist while in college and joined NPR in 2000. He has written seven books
On October 1, Rick Sanchez was fired from his job at CNN for comments he made on a radio show. In a 20 minute long rambling interview, he called comedian Jon Stewart a bigot. He went on to say that Stewart, who is Jewish, was not part of an oppressed minority group and that Jewish people run the media. The causes of this outburst were the constant teasing that Stewart gave Sanchez on The Daily Show, and the cancellation of the primetime version of Sanchez’s show “Rick’s List.”
On October 20, Juan Williams was fired from his position at National Public Radio (NPR) for saying he would get nervous if he got on an airplane and “saw some people in Muslim garb.” He said this during an appearance on Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor.” The comment was supportive of host Bill O’Reilly’s recent statement that a mosque should not be built near ground zero “because Muslims killed us on 9/11.”’
The Juan Williams firing was condemned in lockstep by Republicans with calls for public funding to be cut off from NPR. The Republican catch phrase “political correctness” has often been used to condemn the Williams firing and was used by Williams himself as part of the controversial comments. It is easy to understand why many Americans agree with William’s opinion about Muslims, but if you think about it the terrorists of 9/11 were not dressed in “Muslim garb.”
Rick Sanchez’s firing has not been widely condemned. Sanchez’s accusations of bigotry against Jon Stewart are his opinion and are supported by little if any factual proof. The comments Sanchez made about Jewish people running the networks were taken as an age old anti-Semitic attack. The fact is that many media companies are run by Jewish people. The irony is that the standard conservative assertion that the media is ”liberal” or “controlled” can be construed as code words for the same observation that Rick Sanchez so “inartfully” made.
After Williams was fired by NPR, he landed a $2 million contract from Fox where he had been a contributor since 1997. Rick Sanchez is still unemployed.
Huffington Post- Jon Stewart Addresses Rick Sanchez Firing on ‘Daily Show’
Los Angeles Times- Who Runs Hollywood C’mon
by Greg Martinez