A reader writes:
The initial point that you cited from Hitchens' piece was actually based on a falsehood. For what it's worth, the Israel Lobby did not have the decisive effect on the Turkish genocide vote. The vote also passed previously when the Israel Lobby was against it. See here.
Look, here's the bottom line: Rick Sanchez was fired because he disparaged his bosses (or at least, he should have been).
If he was fired for insulting Jews, that would be wrong. But I seriously doubt the new CNN President Ken Jautz is so thin-skinned he would have fired Sanchez for hurting his feelings. CNN simply found a good excuse to fire someone who was an embarrassment to their network.
I admire and respect Chris Hitchens a lot, but to take this one putz and extrapolate his remarks to such global extremes is misguided at best and ridiculously silly at worst. None of this has to do with Jon Stewart or Jews or whatever else Rick Sanchez was babbling on about. If your bosses find out you've been speaking of them this way, you are going to get fired.
I did not even know who Rick Sanchez was until a few days ago, because I don't watch CNN. But because this controversy temporarily took over half the internet, I felt compelled to listen to his Sirius rant. And I think many people are misinterpreting Sanchez's thoughts. Now, I do not really want to defend him, and it does seem like he is pretty much a fool, but I do not think any part of his rant was that "Jews control the media."
What struck me, after reading all the commentary on this and then hearing his actual rant, was how uninterested in Jon Stewart's Jewishness he was. His Sirius interviewer, Pete Dominick, even brought up Stewart's Jewishness, and it was ignored by Sanchez. Sanchez does not talk about Jews; he talks about "white folks" and "elite northeast establishment liberals." He lumps Jon Stewart in with Stephen Colbert, who is obviously not Jewish. When he says Stewart is bigoted towards "everybody else who's not like him," he means, in his mind, that Stewart and all those other white people (some Jews, some not) look down on Latinos. It seems like Jews are not even on his radar. In a sense, by having a worldview that considers Jews totally assimilated with whites, Sanchez is among the least anti-semitic people on the planet.
Why does this matter? Because so many people are reacting to this rant as if it exposed his hidden anti-semitic side. Jeffrey Goldberg dutifully blogs about how "what Rick Sanchez said was a lie" because none of the major TV news groups has a Jewish CEO. But Sanchez never said anything about Jews. It is bad luck for Sanchez that his "non-Latinos control the media" rant overlapped so much with the old "Jews control the media" rant favored by so many other cranks, but these are different rants. The fact that he also hates Stewart (and Colbert) for poking fun at him on TV just helped to confuse the issue, because of course Stewart, despite having adopted a non-Jewish show-business name, is obviously Jewish. If his rant had focused on Colbert, and only mentioned Stewart in passing, instead of the other way around, would he have gotten fired?
Sanchez has some weird Latino persecution issues, but he is no anti-semite, at least based on that rant.
I think there was an unmistakable whiff of anti-Semitism in what Sanchez said, and wrote so, which is why I remain completely mystified by my colleague's reaction.