Sanchez made the comment in a discussion with CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin on "Rick's List" about the many falsehoods that have been spread about Obama, such as the claim that he is a Muslim or that he is not a citizen of the United States. His voice rising in frustration, Sanchez asked Yellin why people continued to believe the false rumors:
"He is the cotton picking president of the United States! If the president of the United States doesn't have enough of a bully pulpit to convince people that...a lie is a lie...what the hell is going on here?"
After a commercial break, Sanchez immediately apologized. He said that soon after he had used the phrase, people had started contacting him on Twitter, pointing out that he had just used it when referring to a black man -- an insensitive reference, they thought, given the phrase's connections to slavery.
"You know I didn't even realize it?" he said. "I was just saying 'cotton picking' because it's a term that I've used because I grew up in the South...however, I apologize for using it, in case it was taken by anyone as an act of disrespect."
This isn't the first time people have used--or almost used--the phrase on CNN. Earlier this summer, Newsweek editor Julia Reed said Obama was "out of his cotton-picking mind" on "Anderson Cooper 360." And in 2008, Lou Dobbs almost called then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice a "cotton picker."