Rick Sanchez: His Legacy of Liberal Bias on CNN

Rick Sanchez, who was fired from his Rick's List program on CNN on Friday, certainly racked up a record of liberal bias, specifically bias against conservatives, during his tenure at the network. Sanchez also revealed a propensity for making on-air gaffes which made him a targets of comedians like Jon Stewart. It was the former anchor's animosity toward Stewart which directly led to his firing.

Here's the "best of Sanchez" list compiled from the Media Research Center's archives, updated from a July 22, 2010 item on NewsBusters:

Targeting Fox News and Conservative Talk Radio

In late 2008, the CNN anchor gained the 3 pm Eastern time slot of CNN's Newsroom, which would evolve into his Rick's List program. He consistently targeted conservative media outlets from that time until his firing.

ED HENRY: "Fox, Bloomberg, and National Public Radio were vying for it- all made strong cases. In the end, Fox [was] unanimously moved up to the front row, but did not get the seat Helen Thomas was in. We voted unanimously to move the Associated Press over to where Helen Thomas was because what a lot of people were missing in this whole fight was that"-
BROOKE BALDWIN: "And it is a fight"-
HENRY: "Yeah"-
BALDWIN: "Which is fascinating, for those of us who don't understand the inner workings of the"-
HENRY: "Sure, and then we can walk through the whole"-
SANCHEZ: "Well, I understand the Associated Press. I even understand Bloomberg, but don't have you to be a news organization to get that seat?"
HENRY: "Oh! Are you saying Fox is not a news organization?"
SANCHEZ: "Yeah. I'm just wondering."
-Exchange with CNN correspondents Ed Henry, a member of the board of the White House Correspondents Association, and Brooke Baldwin, August 2, 2010 [see video above]. Almost a year earlier, Sanchez hinted Fox News wasn't a "real news organization."

"That weekend tragedy involves a man who allegedly shot and killed three police officers in cold blood. Why? Because he was convinced, after no doubt watching Fox News and listening to right-wing radio, that quote, 'Our rights were being infringed upon.'"
-From CNN Newsroom, April 8, 2009. Sanchez blamed conservative news outlets for the murder of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
 
"Of course, there's the fact that- you know, he [President Obama] is dogged. There's no question. You'd have to be a fool to not look at the landscape and see conservative talk radio hosts literally lambasting this man 24/7. And then, there's Fox News, which is essentially the voice of the Republican Party, whose job it is to make this man look bad no matter what he does.
-From Rick's List, September 21, 2010. Sanchez and correspondent Jessica Yellin discusssed Mr. Obama's September 20 town hall meeting where a supporter bluntly told the President that she was "exhausted of defending" him.
 
"Was there a tone in this country that was actually started with the election of our first black president that is bringing the crazies out of the woodwork, and are they being motivated to move by right-wing pronouncements, like he's dangerous- he' a socialist- he's a Muslim, and he isn’t even a U.S. citizen? This is what we hear on some TV and radio outlets, which, by the way, according to our Constitution, they are entitled to what they believe and even propagate."
-Sanchez again blasting conservative media during a segment with Media Matters of America's Eric Boehlert, June 11, 2009.

Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor; & Rev. Jim Wallis | NewsBusters.org"When you do see some of this wild behavior that we’ve seen in some of these health care forums- when you hear, for example, some of the misrepresentations, and flat out lies in some cases, like calling things death panels and saying that people are going to be- old people are going to be killed, including some of them spread by people who profess to be Christians....I just saw a poll that says something like 75 percent of the people who watch exclusively right-wing media and right-wing television channels, for example, actually believe that there are death panels....They’re not really being dishonest, but their messenger may be. What do you think of that?"
-From an August 19, 2009 segment with liberal pastor and Obama apologist Jim Wallis on anti-ObamaCare protesters at tea parties and congressional town hall meetings.

"Is there a possibility that that message isn't getting out to the American people because these crazy talk show hosts that are so right-wing are out there using the most heated language and the most heated rhetoric that does, in fact, incite people to hate?"
-Question to CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin, March 24, 2010. Sanchez repeatedly insinuated that Republican leaders and conservative media were to blame for ten congressman requesting extra security earlier in the day.

"You know, a lot of the folks who would criticize someone like you- they would criticize you, first of all, because you're a college professor, which, in their mind, makes you overeducated, and thus, stupid. But is that something that's frustrating as well, that you know this stuff and can explain it as easily as you just did to us, but yet, 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.
-Sanchez to guest Danny Boston, a professor at Georgia Tech, in a plausible reference to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, July 9, 2010.

Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.org"When I said Friday that we covered the Tea Party rally in Washington, it was only because Fox News had taken out a full-page ad in The Washington Post telling millions of people that we didn’t cover the rally- and that was a lie, and lies should be exposed. And here's something else that should be exposed. Real news organizations- real news organizations- are not supposed to stage events, nor should they promote news events, nor should they hype news events. Otherwise, they lose their ability to be impartial. They're no longer even remotely objective if they do that, nor are they being 'fair and balanced.' Case in point again: Fox News."
-A lead-in to the September 21, 2009 edition of his regular "Fotos del Dia" segment, where Sanchez went on to bizarrely label Glenn Beck "pudgy-faced."


ROLAND MARTIN: "I...think part of the problem here is that when you look at the people who I think some tea parties- tea party folks look to, the Glenn Becks of the world, who say the President's a racist, and they use the race-baiting, when you look at Rush Limbaugh and his racist language as well- that's what you have here, and at the end of the day, if it's about rights, fine, but reject the people who want to bring race into the rally, into the party. So, I salute those who do that. They're the righteous folks. But not all tea party leaders are willing to do that, and I think the NAACP is simply saying, remove the racist elements from your existence because they're the ones who are hindering your message."
SANCHEZ: "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."
MARTIN: "Well, they make up stuff. They're not legitimate to me at all."
SANCHEZ: "Sad as that may be."
-Exchange with CNN contributor Roland Martin, July 14, 2010, on the NAACP's dispute with the tea party movement over alleged racism in its ranks.


"Limbaugh's perceived racist diatribes are too many to name. Here's a sample- he once declared that 'slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back. I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.'"
-Sanchez reading a dubious quote attributed to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, October 12, 2009.  He later had to apologize on October 16 for running the unverified quote.

 

Denial of Liberal Bias

On several occasions, the former CNN anchor denied that he had any bias towards the left.

SANCHEZ: What is similar about Fox News' extensive coverage of some of the stories that most in the other media didn't give much attention to? And I'll take them to you right now. I'll spell them out for you, Dan: Van Jones, the New Black Panther story, ACORN, Shirley Sherrod. What's similar about those stories, Dan?
DAN ABRAMS: Well, look, Rick, you can make an argument, and you're making a case. You're doing an opinion-based program right here, which I think is great. I think-
SANCHEZ: No, no- actually, I am- no- well, hold on. I'm asking you a legitimate- I have a person that I'm asking you-
ABRAMS: I'm not saying you're ideological.
SANCHEZ: Well, I'm not.
-Exchange with former MSNBC general manager and Mediaite founder Dan Abrams, July 23, 2010. Sanchez again went after Fox News during the segment.

"Look, from what I can tell, I wasn't necessarily liked by the Bush White House, and I don't think I'm particularly liked by the Obama White House as well. And you know what? That's the way I like it."
-From Rick's List, September 30, 2010, his last broadcast on CNN. The former CNN anchor positioned himself about the fray between "right wing" Fox News" and "liberal" MSNBC, and put MSNBC on his "List U Don't Want 2 Be On." Sanchez would make his now infamous remarks against Jon Stewart on Pete Dominic's satellite radio show later that evening.

"To be clear, we don't fit into any template here, Democratic or Republican or otherwise. I play it down the middle."
-Sanchez's earliest claim of balance, CNN Newsroom, February 13, 2009.

"Fox News obviously tends to lean way, way, way to the right....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."
-Sanchez extended his "middle" label of himself to his entire former network on the August 19, 2010 edition of Rick's List.
 

Rick Sanchez: Gaffe Machine

Sanchez is, perhaps, even more renowned for his gaffes than for his reputation for liberal bias. There are four key examples.

DR. KURT FRANKEL: "I think that's a sign of that. I don't think you can translate that nine meters into any specific wave height that will hit Hawaii. So, may be careful about that. It doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be nine meters of runup in Hawaii. But it is showing that you the tsunami in fact did pass by-"
SANCHEZ: "Nine meters- by the way, nine meters in English is?"
FRANKEL: "Oh, about 27 feet."
SANCHEZ: "27 Feet."
-Exchange with Dr. Kurt Frankel of the Georgia Institute of Technology on a tsunami racing across the Pacific Ocean after a 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile, February 27, 2010, during CNN's breaking news coverage.


Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor; & Jacqui Jeras, CNN Meteorologist | NewsBusters.orgJACQUI JERAS: "Look at how huge this [Pacific] ocean basin is, right?"
SANCHEZ: "And this is Hawaii."
JERAS: "And that is Hawaii out there. No, Hawaii is a little bit farther to the west of our map."
SANCHEZ: "So, it's not on this map."
-Exchange with CNN on-air meteorologist Jacqui Jeras, during the same hour as the "nine meters" remark above. Sanchez wasn't pointing at Hawaii on the map, but the Galapagos Islands.

SANCHEZ: "I was just asking Chad [Myers], how can you get a volcano in Iceland? Isn't it too- when you think of a volcano, you think of Hawaii and long words like that. You don't think of Iceland....You think it's too cold to have a volcano there."
-Comment to CNN on-air meteorologist Chad Myers, April 15, 2010, on the volcanic eruption in Iceland which disrupted air traffic over Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean. Sanchez later claimed on Twitter that he was "joking."

"At one point, I said, why can't the president of the United States seem to figure this out? After all, he is the cotton-picking president of the United States. Well, soon after I said that, I started getting some Tweets from some of you, saying, you just said 'cotton-picking president of the United States' about the first black president of the United States? Without even realizing it? I've was just saying 'cotton picking' because it's a term that I've used because I grew up in the South. It's a point that's often used to illustrate frustration- not in any way shown to use- used to show any kind of disrespect. However, I apologize nonetheless for using it, in case it was taken by anyone as an act of disrespect."
-Sanchez apologizing for his inadvertent label of President Obama, August 30, 2010.

JESSICA YELLIN: 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.
SANCHEZ: Really!? You know, this is like the converse of the Nixon thing. Remember how people watched the speech there after Nixon debated Kennedy- 1962? Nineteen-sixty- anyway, early '60s. 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-
-Exchange with CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin, July 19, 2010, on the first public speech of South Carolina Democratic senate candidate Alvin Green. The Nixon/Kennedy debate actually took place two years earlier in 1960.
 
"It’s the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade case....both sides being represented today, but it does appear to me, as I look at these signs that- which side is represented the most....Do we know?"
-Question about March for Life, January 22, 2010. Sanchez appeared to not know that the annual march is put on by pro-life activists.
 
 
Bashing Conservatives

Despite prioritizing his attacks on conservative media outlets, the CNN anchor has also attacked individual conservatives and right-leaning organizations.

Mike Brooks, Former DC Police Detective; & Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgSANCHEZ: "Is he an abortion doctor?"
MIKE  BROOKS: No, no. That was the first thing I thought. It was- apparently, just a general practitioner. In fact, he's even the personal physician to the chief of police there- in town. So, you know, and they said he doesn't have any enemies- you know, he's a pillar of the community. But what they're going to do- he is chairman of the Arkansas medical board, so was there a ruling? Was there something involved in that?"
-Exchange, February 4, 2009, where the host and Brooks, a former DC police detective, raised the liberal stereotype of pro-lifers as possible terrorists after a doctor in Arkansas was critically injured in an apparent car bombing.


WAYNE SLATER: "This is legacy-building time. The [Bush] administration's out. Folks on different parts of the administration are pointing fingers, trying to make somebody else look bad so that they look good. You know, it's interesting-"
SANCHEZ: "But it doesn't make him look good. It makes him look like a guy who was being controlled by a bunch of bullies."
SLATER: "Well, that's exactly it. If Lincoln had a sort of team of rivals, it now appears that Bush was presiding over a reign of bullies, with Cheney and Rumsfeld and Karl Rove pushing the partisan agenda."
-Sanchez and liberal guest Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News bashing the administration of former President George W. Bush during a May 19, 2009 segment.


SANCHEZ: "Is it something that you've seen a pattern of where some of these people are somehow marrying or melding their way into these tea party events, and is that disconcerting for you?"
MARK POTOK: "I think it's very disconcerting. This is the first case where we have absolutely rock-solid evidence that, in fact, people associated with the militia movement directly and its ideas are some of the same people who are disrupting these town meetings. But it is worth remembering that last week one of the first fellows to show up in New Hampshire with a gun strapped to his hip, saying that the tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of tyrants, and also saying that illegal aliens should be sent home with a bullet in their brain- you know, those words, the paraphrase of Thomas Jefferson, those are precisely the words that were on the back of the t-shirt worn by Timothy McVeigh when he blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.In other words, that idea of watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants is a core militia slogan and idea. So, I think it's very worrying. I think we're seeing a kind of coalescing of these groups or at least the ideas behind them."
POTOK: "I think 'disconcerting' fits the bill."
-Exchange between Sanchez and left-leaning guest, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, August 20, 2009. The two painted the tea party movements and health care town hall protests as extremists.


Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor; & Roland Martin, CNN Contributor | NewsBusters.orgTEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (from April 15, 2009): "It gives me that thrill up my leg when I see all the people standing out here on the city hall of Austin, Texas, with liberty in their hearts and independence on their mind. I'm talking about states' rights. (Crowd cheers and applause) States' rights! States' rights!"
MARTIN: "...You... have to be very careful when you start talking about state's rights. As an African-American, state's rights has a whole different meaning. Because you start thinking about Ross Barnett in Mississippi, you start thinking about what happened when it came to segregation, when it came to 'Brown versus Board of Education.' So he has to be very careful using that kind of language by saying state's rights."
SANCHEZ: "State's rights has racist overtones, I'll say it for you."
- Exchange with CNN contributor Roland Martin, September 2, 2009. Barnett was the segregationist governor of Mississippi during the 1960s.


WAYNE SLATER: "Right now, Rick Perry, double-digit lead over Kay Bailey Hutchison- this was a collapse by the senior senator from Texas."                    
SANCHEZ: "Why? I mean- you know, when he came out with his comment. Remember, you and I talked about it when he said it. I mean, he was all about secession from the union. He was talking about states' rights. States' rights is, to most people of color, a racist term-"
SLATER: "Yeah."
SANCHEZ: "And I thought he had hurt himself. Why wasn't she able to, kind of, jump on that and use it?"
-Sanchez reviving his hint that Governor Perry is a racist, March 2, 2010.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center