CNN's Rick Sanchez: Obsessed With Fox News, Beck, and Limbaugh

CNN anchor Rick Sanchez revisited his vendetta against Fox News, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh on Thursday's Rick's List. Sanchez brought on outgoing Representative Bob Inglis, who lost a primary challenge to a Tea Party-backed Republican candidate, and when he harped about "flamethrowers" on TV and radio, the anchor pressed him on whether he meant the two radio hosts and his network's competitor [audio clips available here].

Sanchez interviewed Rep. Inglis just before the top of the 4 pm Eastern hour. He introduced the politician by emphasizing the South Carolina Republican's overall conservative record and his recent defeat in the primary: "My next guest is a conservative firebrand. He is a veteran conservative congressman. In fact, he's maintained a 93 percent conservative voting record....Pro-choice liberals have called him a 'zero.'...He was a Ronald Reagan Republican, if there ever one was, and suddenly, he wakes up one day, and he simply is not conservative enough, not for South Carolina Republicans. He lost the recent primary. No- he got killed in the recent primary, 29-71 [percent]."

However, what the CNN anchor left out is how Inglis was one of the few House Republicans who voted for a 2007 Democratic-sponsored resolution opposing the troop surge in Iraq, and has criticized skeptics of man-made global warming, as well as opposed offshore drilling. Most prominently, he voted for the 2008 bailout of the financial system. The Republican's primary opponent used these votes and stances to defeat him.

Sanchez first asked the outgoing congressman about an excerpt from his recent interview with the left-wing magazine Mother Jones, where he highlighted a constituent's conspiracy theory about President Obama:
SANCHEZ: [reading from the constituent's letter] 'Bob, what don't you get? Barack Obama is a socialist, communist, Marxist, who wants to destroy the American economy so that he can take over as dictator. Health care is part of that, and he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn the U.S. into a Muslim nation.'...When I read that, I was just struck by the language. You vouch for that, right? That- who was telling you that?
Later in the interview, Rep. Inglis criticized "this scapegoating that's keeping us from the solutions" to issues like Social Security and Medicare. The anchor asked him to explain what he meant and borrowed from a recent argument by CNN contributor John Avlon, that the Tea Party would reject former President Reagan: "What do you mean, 'scapegoating'? Where is this coming from? Because I said this or asked this of one of my guests yesterday- you know, if Ronald Reagan were running today, he would likely be in the same boat you're in."

Sanchez pounced when the South Carolina congressman placed the blame on conservative media and grassroots activists, specifically "Beck, Limbaugh, and the Tea Party wing," and took the opportunity to ask about his other favorite target, Fox News:
INGLIS: I think that's true, really. I mean, Reagan would have had a hard time on Tuesday, the 22nd of June, in the Fourth District of South Carolina, because he's too optimistic. You know, he's always- morning in America, the best days are still ahead. Way too many of these hot microphones on TV and radio are telling us that- no, our- the best days are behind us. It's all going to pot. We're done for, and way too many people are believing that stuff. I mean, the people that sell that are making millions off their books.

SANCHEZ: Well, that's interesting....Here's another quote. This is you on outside influences in the Republican Party. It's what you were just getting at. You say, 'It's hard for Republicans in Congress to summon the courage to say no to Beck, Limbaugh, and the Tea Party wing.' Amplify that thought process, if you would, for us, sir.

INGLIS: Well, it's very important that we basically say to these hot microphones, put down those flame-throwers. Stop running people- forcing people to this cliff that you want us to go over like lemmings. What we need to do to is say to them, stop- America's best days are not behind us. They are in front of us, if we realize that we're in this together, and we can solve these challenges of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. That's where the big dollars are. That's the crisis we're facing. But, if we come together, we can actually solve that. It won't be a 100 percent Republican solution. It won't be a 100 percent Democrat solution, but it's got to be an American solution that gets us to balance. So, but what we're wasting time with is scapegoats.

SANCHEZ: It almost you sounds like you're saying that honorable people in the Republican Party are allowing themselves to be led, rather than leading.

INGLIS: Well, I think there's a big fear of these people with the hot microphones, because they have got powerful flamethrowers, and they throw that flame at you, and they say, get moving, and they get the crowd moving, and, meanwhile, you stop-

SANCHEZ: You're talking about Beck and Limbaugh and people like that?

INGLIS: The people that make millions by selling soap and by selling books-

SANCHEZ: Fox News?

INGLIS: And by selling fear.

SANCHEZ: Fox News?

INGLIS: Well, they're the competitor for you. But the idea here is to-

SANCHEZ: Well, no. Look, I don't care. I- I'm asking. I mean, you're- I don't know what it's like to be a Republican congressman getting so much heat from what I believed was my side of the aisle, that it makes me start to wonder if people are pushing me in a direction I don't want to go to. You're in a unique position to tell his story to Americans, so I- you know, I'm not putting words in your mouth. I just know who are the people who drive that message out there, and I know that it's Beck, and I know that it's Limbaugh, and I know, that in many ways, you could argue it's Fox News. Is it- do you feel it's that way?

INGLIS: Well, I think that there are a lot of people that are making a lot of money off of selling fear at this point. And there are networks that do that. There are individual talk show hosts that do that, and the sad thing is that an awful lot of Americans are running in fear in front of those folks, and especially, politicians are running in fear in front of those folks.

But, really, if you're going to lead, you need to face those hot microphones, and you need to say, put down the flame-throwers. We're going to talk facts. The fact is, the President was born in America. The fact is, he is not a socialist. Now, let's get rid of those non-sensical kind of commentaries and get to the real issues, which are, how do you cope with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? How do you put those on solid footing?
On August 2, the CNN anchor hinted that Fox News wasn't a legitimate news organization after the outlet received a front-row seat at White House press briefings. He did the same on the September 21, 2009 edition of his program.  Earlier that year, on April 8, Sanchez blamed Fox News and "right-wing radio" for the murder of three police officers in Pittsburgh.

The anchor has also specifically targeted Beck and Limbaugh on a few occasions. Three weeks earlier, on July 14, Sanchez and CNN contributor Roland Martin slammed the two and their listeners: "Well, unfortunately, there's a lot of people in this country that look at legitimate news organizations like The Washington Post and scoff, and actually think that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are legitimate news organizations." Five days before that, the CNN personality belittled conservative talks show hosts as he made a plausible reference to Limbaugh and Sean Hannity: "The people who are really leading the charge in this country are the guys on the radio and- many of which don't even have a college degree." Most egregiously, he had to apologize in October 2009 after reading a dubious quote attributed to Limbaugh.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center