The Shmooze

Rick Sanchez and Anti-Semitism

By Josh Tapper

  • Print
  • Share Share

By this point, we all know the details of former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez’s fall from grace. As fast as he rose from fill-in anchor in the mid-2000s to host of a two-hour, social media-inspired afternoon broadcast, Rick’s List, he was out the door, taken down by one of the great taboos left standing in America: anti-Semitism.

The formula is simple. A public figure makes a comment painting Jews or the Jewish community in a negative or stereotypical manner (forget benign intent) and is then condemned, ostracized, excommunicated. Calumny that crops up in the media rarely stands a chance against 21st century media and political watchdogs.

Here is Sanchez, spouting some classic Jewish media domination rhetoric — aimed at The Daily Show host Jon Stewart — on Pete Dominick’s radio program nearly two weeks ago: “I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah.”

It’s hard to argue that Sanchez’s comments convey anti-Semitic undertones. But it’s the indefensibility of Sanchez’s line of thought, and those like it, that now has the people over at GetReligion.org, a blog that follows press coverage of religious issues, debating the question of anti-Semitism.

Considering how quarrelsome these arguments usually get, blogger Brad Greenberg (not Jewish) shrewdly dodged the question, instead turning the floor over to a recent article by Danielle Berrin, who writes the Hollywood Jew blog for The Jewish Journal.

The main issue floats around the notion of whether or not insults can be slung at Jews in a public forum, free of actual or perceived anti-Semitic coloring.

“Just because something is tasteless and stupid doesn’t mean it’s anti-Semitic,” Berrin writes. Sanchez’s comments were “crass, rude and unsophisticated — but anti-Semitic? Sanchez further asserted that Jews have a lot of power and influence in the media. If we’re honest, that’s probably true (I haven’t run the numbers) — but is it anti-Semitic to say so?”

The answer, I’d say, is probably. The actual numbers matter little when you accept that claims about Jewish media domination have never been used for good (except here) and reflect historically insidious and destructive attitudes toward Jews.

But since anti-Semitism is so “amorphous,” Greenberg argues we shouldn’t rush to judgment — and he’s on to something, at least as far as free public debate is concerned, in writing “it’s healthy — to discuss the role of Jews in the media … if it’s done sincerely and without malice.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Daily Show, Rick Sanchez, Rick's List, Jon Stewart, Danielle Berrin, Brad Greenberg, Anti-Semitism

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.