Rick Sanchez: CNN is 'Middle'; Fox News 'Way, Way, Way to the Right'

On Wednesday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez returned to his obsession with Fox News, stating that the network "obviously tends to lean way, way, way to the right." He did acknowledge this his competitors at MSNBC "tends to sway to the left," but went on to extend his "I play it down the middle" label of himself to his entire liberal network: "We happen to be in the middle, and that's the way we do things" [audio available here].

The anchor, who denied that he had any ideological leanings less than a month ago, brought on correspondent Jessica Yellin 17 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour to report on the political donations of News Corporation, which own their competitor, Fox News. Yellin reported that News Corp. "has given a million to the Republican Governors Association." Sanchez replied that "there is nothing wrong with giving money....Time Warner is a big company. I'm sure Time Warner gives money to different organizations, except I have no idea what it is." He then asked, "So, what I want from you is, the $1 million figure, all those zeroes...is it different? Is it substantially different?"

The correspondent answered that apparently, the owner of Fox News donates "exponentially more than other organizations- news organizations' parent companies give to any one organization in a year." She displayed the figures, as reported by CQ MoneyLine, with an on-screen graphic, that News Corp. gave $1,089,000 to Republicans and $113,000 to Democrats during the 2009-2010 period. Yellin continued that "our parent company [Time Warner] gave $91,500 to Republicans in the last two years, and $135,500 to Democrats....So, $135,000, compared to more than a million- it's a magnitude scale difference."

Later in the segment, the CNN correspondent moved on to donations of GE, the parent company of their competitor MSNBC: "GE is the one company that's given as much money- almost as much money total, but not to one group....But they're not just a media company. They're technology, financial services."  She continued that "the Democratic Governors Association is calling on Fox to have a disclaimer on air, saying- hey, we gave- our parent company gave this much money to the RGA." Sanchez replied with his "way, way, way to the right" label and continued with his take on the ideological stances of MSNBC and his own network: "You know, you're allowed to have a perspective. One of our other competitors tends to sway to the left. So, that's the way it works. And we happen to be in the middle, and that's the way we do things."

Earlier in 2010, the New York Times reported that CNN was touting itself as "the only credible, nonpartisan voice left" on cable television. Writer Stuart Elliott's quoted from network president Jonathan Klein during a presentation to advertisers: "'Our mission, our mandate, is to deliver the best journalism in the world,' said Jonathan Klein....'No bias, no agenda.' That philosophy 'puts us in a category of one,' he added, as CNN’s competitors 'have abandoned the field' of objective reporting." Three CNN personalities with documented examples of liberal bias- Anderson Cooper, Candy Crowley, and Wolf Blitzer- appeared on a panel during the presentation.

The transcript of the relevant portion of the segment from Wednesday's Rick's List:

SANCHEZ: So, a lot of folks have been talking about this story. This is News Corp., and- you know, part of the reason this becomes newsworthy is, it's one of our competitors-

JESSICA YELLIN: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Fox News. They're owned by Rupert Murdoch- that's News Corp. He has given- what, a million dollars to the GOP?

YELLIN: Their parent organization, News Corp., has given a million to the Republican Governors Association-

SANCHEZ: Right.

YELLIN: A Republican group-  the association, yeah.

SANCHEZ: So, I guess what I want to get from you- and to put it- to make it fair, because- look, there is nothing wrong with giving money. It's the way this system works.

YELLIN: Right.

SANCHEZ: All big- we are a big company. Time Warner is a big company. I'm sure Time Warner gives money to different organizations, except I have no idea what it is. I mean, I have nothing to do with it. You have nothing to do with it. But that's part of the process. So, what I want from you is, the $1 million figure, all those zeroes-

YELLIN: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Is it different? Is it substantially different?

YELLIN: It's exponentially more than other organizations- news organizations' parent companies give to any one organization in a year.

SANCHEZ: Really?

YELLIN: We made up a graph. I'm not- do we have the graphic?

SANCHEZ: Hey, do we have that, guys?

YELLIN: I'm not sure if we have it. But-

SANCHEZ: We do. We got it- go.

YELLIN: Great. Look at this. So, that's News Corp. That's how much they gave to Republicans, all told, and Democrats. Look at the comparison between the two, okay? (Sanchez laughs) And then, if we can advance to look at some of the other news organizations, as you say, Time Warner- okay, that's all we have.  But, to give you an example, Time Warner-

SANCHEZ: Okay- yeah?

YELLIN: Our parent company gave $91,500 to Republicans in the last two years, and $135,500 to Democrats.

SANCHEZ: Okay.

YELLIN: So, $135,000, compared to more than a million- it's a magnitude scale difference.

SANCHEZ: It means we're cheap. (laughs)

YELLIN: (laughs) Don't let the bosses hear you say that. Yeah, and- you know- look, Rick, to be fair, this is why some critics say corporate ownership of media is bad. They worry that this does influence the process.

SANCHEZ: Oh, there's the graphic, by the way, that you were talking about a little while ago.

YELLIN: There's Time Warner.

SANCHEZ: Yeah.

YELLIN: GE is the one company that's given as much money- almost as much money total, but not to one group-

SANCHEZ: And they own?

YELLIN: But they're not just a media company.

SANCHEZ: Yeah.

YELLIN: They're technology, financial services. They own NBC.

SANCHEZ: Right.

YELLIN: I mean, the bottom line, as you know, Fox is always going on- their message is 'fair and balanced,' 'fair and balanced.'

Now, the Democratic Governors Association is calling on Fox to have a disclaimer on air, saying- hey, we gave- our parent company gave this much money to the RGA.

SANCHEZ: That's interesting. And, of course, the argument would be Fox News obviously tends to lean way, way, way to the right. Most people-

YELLIN: So you say.

SANCHEZ: So- yeah, right.(both Sanchez and Yellin laugh) I don't know why I came up with that.

YELLIN: It's fair and balanced.

SANCHEZ: I don't know why I came up with that.

YELLIN: Haven't you seen the graphic? (laughs)

SANCHEZ: Maybe it's because I have watched from time to time. But- well, that's fine. You know, you're allowed to have a perspective. One of our other competitors tends to sway to the left. So, that's the way it works. And we happen to be in the middle, and that's the way we do things. So, the argument is then- look, the fact of the matter is, you're accused of going to the right, and now, you give this huge check for a million dollars, and the Democrats are accusing them by saying- that seals the deal.

YELLIN: It's pure bias- it's proven, is what the Democrats say. Now, they say- Fox, the owners of Fox say- hey, actually, this organization, the Republican governors, reflect our political- our business values. They're going to stand for lower taxes and less regulation, and that's what we like. So-

SANCHEZ: Interesting.

YELLIN: The truth is, it's honestly a lot about business decisions, but this is why it's important to: A, have transparent media- have transparency in donations. We need to know this stuff, and it's important for all this information to be getting out more often than it does.

SANCHEZ: And, by the way, just to be fair to Fox and to Rupert Murdoch and to News Corp., there's no- there's nothing to suggest here that they were trying to hide anything, right?

YELLIN: No!

SANCHEZ: No. It's out in the open.

YELLIN: No. It's out there.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center