The instant now former CNN news host Rick Sanchez shot off his mouth and claimed that Jews owned his employer CNN, this writer demanded that CNN have the guts to fire Sanchez. It wasn't a totally slam dunk that it would. Sanchez has a following. His quirky, confrontational style seems tailor made for a network chasing ratings and Fox Network. CNN could have easily taken the mealy mouth, tap dance around, cop-out way out and suspended him with a reprimand, and a stern warning that any repeat pop off and he'd be out. It didn't it summarily fired him, just as I called for. CNN's swift action in a bigger sense, though, has less to do with canning an errant news host then sending the message that there's one tolerance, and only tolerance for bigoted remarks from air talent, or anyone else for that matter that works in a reputable news organization, and that's zero, to repeat zero tolerance. CNN did itself proud the way it handled Sanchez, namely showing him the door.
The GOP and Tea Party leaders can learn something from this. It has winked and nodded, and back door stroked, tacitly encouraged, and even applauded its long parade of bigots, kooks and cranks with the lame excuse that it can't police the bigots in its ranks. Indeed, Kentucky GOP senate candidate Rand Paul recently used this garbage line when confronted with the fact that three outrageous white supremacists donated $1,200 to his campaign.
Paul's response to demands that he denounce them and give their money back was that he couldn't police his thousands of donors. No one who has paid the least bit of attention to Paul, and father, Ron should bat an eye at this lame brain answer. His response is the standard template for the Tea Party and GOP officials when it comes to their absolute refusal to purge the closet white sheet wearers from their ranks.
CNN is not the GOP or the Tea Party. But it is an organization, a powerful organization, and so are the GOP and the Tea Party. And like all major organizations it has a duty to set an example of public decency and civility, and first and foremost that means stamping down on bigotry whenever and wherever it arises in its ranks.
CNN did just that. This writer was proud to demand that the network do the right thing and give Sanchez the swift boot Sanchez out. This writer is just as proud to applaud them for doing it. I'm not holding my breath on the tea Party and the GOP to do the same.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
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