Here's the question: Will CNN have the guts to can its on-air, resident baiter Rick Sanchez? Sanchez did what legions of cranks, kooks, professional baiters, politicians, entertainers, and assorted personalities did. He repeated -- no, reveled in -- the stock lie that Jews own the media. In this case, dumbly finger-pointing his own golden egg-laying goose, CNN, as being Jewish controlled.
Now, bear in mind that many of the notables that jammed their foot in their mouth about Jews and the media have lost jobs, careers, or were suspended, reviled, forced to issue profuse apologies and then promptly treated as pariahs. The most recent, Helen Thomas and Reverend Jeremiah, not to mention Mel Gibson, have felt the public lash after making cracks about Jews and the media.
The Sanchez dig hurts in another way though. There's still the widely prevalent belief that much of the public is closet anti-Semites, and even in the more bizarre circles, a rumor to that effect is occasionally heard about President Obama. That was heard after his pointed admonition to the Israeli government to crack down on the building of the settlements on the West Bank. The settlement expansion has been widely and repeatedly criticized by diplomats, political leaders, two former American presidents Clinton and Bush as well as a wide section of Israeli public opinion.
Two decades later, Jesse Jackson still takes hits for his "Hymietown" crack, and Al Sharpton takes a hit on occasion for some alleged anti-Semitic act. Former Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, is still virtually interchangeable with anti-Semite.
Anti-Semitism is alive and well in America, and it didn't take the murder at the Holocaust Memorial Museum last year by a deranged, delusional nut to prove that. The legion of neo-Nazi websites, videos, books, and pamphlets, that rail against Jewish or Zionist conspiracies under countless bedposts. Sanchez, as Gibson, in blurting out his dumb crack, swims in a sea that's been well poisoned by latent and overt anti-Semitism.
The Sanchez gaffe comes at a time when CNN is struggling mightily to find its rating and advertising legs, and is frantically looking for anyone to shove on-air who can rev up the ratings, and keep the ad dollars flowing. The strategy it thinks is best is to try and out fox the Fox Network. That means bringing in a slew of free swinging hosts and talking heads who can bait, harangue, shout, and finger-point guests, each other, and spin the news in an in-your-face way to get the tongues wagging and the verbal fists flying. The Fox lite opinionated Sanchez seems the perfect fit for that.
The dilemma for CNN then is: does it keep the confrontational Sanchez or dump him? The choice should be clear. He should go. Let's see if CNN makes that choice, (not the ratings choice) and gives him the swift boot.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this post included a statement that was allegedly issued by CNN about Rick Sanchez. CNN never issued the statement and it has since been removed from the post. We regret the error.