Former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez still has Jon Stewart on his mind, nearly nine months after Sanchez lost his job after he lashed out at Stewart in a satellite radio interview.
In a blog he posted just last week on his personal Web site, Sanchez came to Stewart’s defense in the face of criticism Stewart’s been receiving from various personalities on Fox News Channel who have labeled Stewart a racist for a recent bit he did on “The Daily Show.”
The issue is a voice characterization Stewart did last month when he impersonated Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain, an African-American, in a voice that some likened to a voice you might have heard on the old “Amos ‘n’ Andy” radio and TV shows. The old show – once one of the most popular radio shows in the United States (it later became a TV series in the 1950s) – is often held up as a symbol of the way blacks were once characterized in pre-civil rights America. Chris Wallace was the first to make the “Amos ‘n’ Andy” comparison when he interviewed Stewart on “Fox News Sunday” last month.
Sanchez got in trouble last year when he too labeled Stewart a “bigot.” Now, though, Sanchez is saying he doesn’t feel that way about Stewart. “Jon’s not a racist or a bigot—not even close,” said Sanchez, who last year called Stewart a bigot in a radio interview in which Sanchez was asked to react to Stewart’s many “Daily Show” comedy bits that poked fun at Sanchez and highlighted mistakes Sanchez made on the air at CNN.
“The insinuation that he is any of those things, hiding under the cover of comedy, is just plain wrong,” Sanchez’s blog post continues. “The assertion that Jon ‘gets away’ with jokes because Fox classifies him as a liberal, and that a conservative would get eviscerated for saying the same things, doesn’t hold water. Unless we’re ready to classify Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh as comedians rather than pundits, anchors or hosts on a news network, then any comparison to Jon is a false one.
“Jon’s goal every night is to inform and illuminate, and to be funny while doing so. Whatever Jon’s political leanings, he is an equal-opportunity comedian and satirist. Whether you’re black, brown, green or purple, whether you’re Hispanic, White, African-American, Arab or Chinese, whether you’re liberal, conservative, libertarian or just plain apolitical, Jon just goes where the funny is (and sometimes it’s the jugular).”
It’s a pretty abrupt about-face for Sanchez, who might be trying to get back in Stewart’s good graces by writing this defense of Stewart – a story which is getting picked up all over the place, starting here in The Hollywood Reporter. Sanchez wrote the blog as a response to one that FNC’s Bernie Goldberg wrote about Stewart and the “Amos ‘n’ Andy” dust-up. (Read Goldberg’s blog here.)
“I was on the receiving end of Jon’s jokes for a long, long time,” Sanchez writes now. “I was thin-skinned enough to think that I was a target due to my ethnicity. And I was wrong.”