CNN shows Rick Sanchez the door

CNN SHOWS RICK SANCHEZ THE DOOR…. After Rick Sanchez’s offensive radio tirade came to light yesterday, the question wasn’t whether CNN would punish him, but rather, how severe the punishment would be. Late yesterday afternoon, we found out.

Rick Sanchez, a daytime anchor at CNN, was fired on Friday, a day after telling a radio interviewer that Jon Stewart was a bigot and that “everybody that runs CNN is a lot like Stewart.”

The latter comment was made shortly after Mr. Stewart’s faith, Judaism, was invoked.

CNN said in a statement Friday evening, “Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company. We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well.”

That, by the way, was not an excerpt of a longer statement from the network; it was CNN’s statement in its entirety.

Was the response proportional to the offense? It’s a judgment call, of course, but once a high-profile CNN personality starts alluding to Jews running the media, it’s hardly a stretch to think his career is in jeopardy. Sure, Pat Buchanan and Erick Erickson have made equally offensive remarks, and remain paid media professionals at major news organizations, but that’s not much of a defense.

In Sanchez’s case, it’s also likely that there was a cumulative effect at play — he’s annoyed the network’s management before, and this may have represented the final straw. The NYT report added that Sanchez “was a polarizing figure within CNN, but under the channel’s former president, Jonathan Klein, he was rewarded with more air time, most recently a two-hour block in the afternoons. Mr. Klein was fired last week.”

It’s possible, then, that Sanchez’s future with the network was precarious anyway, and his arguably anti-Semitic rant simply precipitated the end of an awkward partnership.

By the way, the audio of Sanchez’s on-air remarks are online, and listening to the bitterness and sarcasm actually makes him sound even worse.

Postscript: Just as an aside, Josh Marshall raised a good point last night: “Rick Sanchez’s mistake was not being a Tea Party candidate. Then there wouldn’t be any problem.” That sounds about right.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.