Longform

Rick Sanchez Godless Communist

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Cut back to Max Castro, still waiting in his office.

Max Castro: I saw some of the coverage on Channel 7, and clearly they often framed the argument as about Fidel and not about Juan Miguel. They have to take responsibility for what they broadcast. They were manipulated [by exile leaders] into [framing the story this way], yes, but they were supposed to be journalists and not cheerleaders. I heard many people across the country who would never vote for Proposition 187 or for English-only laws who watched what was happening in Miami and were outraged at the fooling around with the flag and so forth. I think it does weaken the hard-liners to that extent. It made them look very unreasonable, certainly. It weakens them and may lead to a softening of the embargo. Right now, I think, they're talking about an exemption [to the embargo] for food and medicine.

Back live to Cafiero in the Satellite Center. On the screen behind her, the "Rick… or Red?" graphic remains illuminated.

Cafiero: Now, Rick, we asked both the State Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Miami if there were any active investigations into espionage activity involving you. Neither government agency would confirm that, which, as you and I both know, Rick, doesn't mean it's not true. In fact all the information gleaned from the videotapes, placed in context with your reporting over the five months Elián lived in Miami makes it, and I'm quoting New Times now, "highly likely" that you are a clandestine operative.

Sanchez: Now, is it true I refused to speak to New Times?

Cafiero: That's right, Rick. You declined requests from the newspaper to discuss your Elián coverage. Station spokesman Charlie Folds told New Times you are not giving any interviews on Elián, an apparently new policy put in place after your appearance discussing Elián on CNN's Newsstand program.

Jennings: Thank you, Carmel, for that report. These sensational charges of a communist conspiracy are not the first time Rick Sanchez's journalistic ethics have taken a hit. The Night Team's Holly Herbert is in Cooper City tonight to explain how the Seven News anchor has proven surprisingly resistant to scandal. Holly? Can you hear me?

Herbert [holding hand to earpiece]: Yes, Laurie, I can hear you. And I am in Cooper City. In fact I'm standing directly in front of Rick's house. This suburbanized Siberia in Broward County is geographically and governmentally removed from the maelstrom of exile politics. Earlier today a child rode his bicycle. A dog ran across the street. Certainly not the type of American neighborhood where you would expect to find a communist double agent.

Cut to footage of a child riding a bicycle and a dog running across the street. Bleed into a closeup of Rick Sanchez's face -- morphing suddenly into the iconic image of Che Guevara. Cue recording of a child wailing in pain.

Herbert [voice-over]: Rick Sanchez has strong ties to the communist nation of Cuba. The news anchor was born 41 years ago in Havana, Cuba's capital city and the current home of Fidel Castro. Rick received his first passport when he was less than two years old, moving with his family to the City of Hialeah. After struggling as a student at first, he went on to attend and play football for Hialeah High. Two days after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1982, he began working at WSVN.

Although he initially thrived at Channel 7, Rick quickly earned himself a second exile. In 1985 wiretaps recorded Rick trading favors with his friend Alberto San Pedro, a self-proclaimed political fixer described by police as "a major corrupter in Hialeah." With his journalistic reputation compromised, Rick fled Miami in shame. At least one source tells us he may have landed at a Houston television station, though the Night Team has not been able to confirm that at this hour. It is not implausible that Rick actually returned to his homeland, perhaps for intensive training.

Returning to Miami two years later with a resolve to make it to the top, Rick emerged as a local news celebrity after WSVN adopted a lucrative "if it bleeds it leads" philosophy. Rick blew up so big in Miami that he easily survived a second scandal, in 1991, when he pleaded no contest to charges of driving while intoxicated after he hit a pedestrian following a Dolphins game. In 1996 Rick signed a five-year, seven-figure contract to stay at WSVN.

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Robert Andrew Powell