When a tropical storm bears down and local politics just seem boooring, we should all be grateful we have guys like Rick Sanchez around to entertain us.
Last night, the CNN talker looked into the eyes of America and ripped Fox News for its despicable coverage of the Shirley Sherrod story. Sanchez spoke earnestly of reporting the news rather than distorting it, of the importance of good news judgment, and of never allowing political ideology to get in the way of good journalism.
It was good stuff, possibly even better than the other highlight of the evening, when Larry King asked Hugh Hefner if he was still having "threesomes." Anyway, here's a snippet of Sanchez's sanctimonious speech:
Confused? Damn straight. Watching Sanchez lecture the country on journalistic standards is downright surreal. This is the same Sanchez, after all, that spent a couple of decades lowering the standards of local television news in South Florida? And didn't he do most of his damage at WSVN, the local Fox News affiliate?
Yes, Sanchez was always ready to rally the Cuban faithful into a frenzy. Hell, he helped create the whole Elian Gonzalez circus. Readers wrote in with complaints about Sanchez, one calling him a "disgrace to journalism," another saying he needed to find work as an actor in soap operas, another comparing him to Jerry Springer.
He ginned up any hint of trouble into potential disasters, including a 1993 train wreck during which Sanchez "insisted on engaging in speculation that could only serve to increase the anxiety of viewers," Tom Jicha wrote at the time. One particularly disgraceful moment for Sanchez came in 1990 when he made false claims about the dangers facing a jetliner that had blown out a tire on takeoff. While it was a fairly commonplace occurrence, Sanchez claimed on the air, falsely, that the plane dumped fuel over the Everglades to avoid "exploding on impact" and, again falsely, that it was preparing for a belly-landing, according to the Herald at the time. An Eastern Airlines spokesman put out a press release the next day calling Sanchez's report "easily the most inept, amateurish and inexcusably sensationalist coverage of an aircraft incident in my experience."
The Sentinel called it "classic Channel 7 mountain-out-of-molehill journalism."
We could go on and on here, you get the picture. Later in last night's CNN telecast, Sanchez was back up to his old tricks. He said he had personally discovered that, gasp!, there were white supremacists living in America! Then he had the requisite shocking interview with one of them. The supremacist's views were indeed revolting, but click inside to see footage of one moment during the interview where it was difficult not to agree with him.