CNN's Rick Sanchez: Nixon/Kennedy Debate Took Place in 1962?

Rick Sanchez stumbled again on-air on his CNN program on Monday, getting the year of the famous Kennedy-Nixon television debate wrong by a margin of two years. Sanchez, who was trying to describe South Carolina Democratic senatorial candidate Alvin Greene's first public speech as the "converse" of the debate, initially guessed 1962 as the year of the debate, but then broadened his answer to "early '60s" [audio available here].

The anchor, who misidentified the Galapagos Islands as Hawaii during CNN's live coverage of the February 27, 2010 Chilean earthquake, and "joked" that it was too cold in Iceland for volcanoes on April 15, brought on correspondent Jessica Yellin to discuss Greene's speech. Twenty-one minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour, Yellin mentioned how she had "talked to the audience [at the speech] beforehand....Every single person I spoke to was a skeptic before, and almost all of them said they'd vote for him afterwards or support him."

This detail surprised Sanchez, who then launched his comparison between Greene's speech on Monday and the historical Nixon/Kennedy debate:
RICK SANCHEZ: Really!?

YELLIN: Yeah-

SANCHEZ: You know, this is like the converse of the Nixon thing. Remember how people watched the speech there after Nixon-

YELLIN: Right.

SANCHEZ: Debated Kennedy- 1962? Nineteen-sixty- anyway, early '60s.
Yellin smiled and nodded uncomfortably after her CNN colleague gave that wrong answer, but didn't explicitly correct his gaffe afterward.

Sanchez continued with his recollection of history:
SANCHEZ: When Kennedy debated Nixon, everybody who was in the audience said- oh, my God, Nixon killed him- just destroyed him, wiped the floor with him. Yet, everyone at home said- no, Kennedy won that by a mile, and it's because they could see Nixon's perspiration, and the camera goes in so tight, and you saw the stubble and the- you know, the five o'clock shadow-

YELLIN: (unintelligible) (laughs) Right.

SANCHEZ: Well, we were watching this guy here on television and he did come across- jumpy, nervous, jittery, inexperienced, and sweating like he was- like, sweating too much.

YELLIN: Right. You know, it was-

SANCHEZ: Is that what's going on here?
The CNN anchor, who sparred with this author after the Iceland "joke" back in April, did get a kick out of a Tweet I made after correspondent Brooke Baldwin spilled her secret about her recent engagement, "stealing [his] thunder," as I put it. Sanchez read and displayed my Tweet on-air after a commercial break. Here's looking at you, Rick!
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center