CNN stands up to Sanchez

CNN daytime anchor Rick Sanchez was fired from the network following offensive remarks he made toward Daily Show host Jon Stewart and CNN executives while appearing Thursday on Stand Up!, a satellite radio show hosted by Pete Dominick. Sanchez openly called Stewart a “bigot”and also stated that “everybody that runs CNN is a lot like Stewart.”

Friday morning, audio clips of Sanchez’s remarks circulated online causing controversy and uproar that eventually led to his dismissal from CNN marking the first “high-profile” firing by network head Ken Jautz. Some speculation continues to circulate suggesting that Sanchez’s dismissal was simply a scare tactic that Jautz used to make his mark and make an example of the anchorman.

Sanchez serves as a prime example of crisis management in full force. Following Sanchez’s comments, CNN wasted little time giving him the boot making it known that they refused to be ridiculed by anyone on their payroll. The comments Sanchez made were not congruent with the messaging that the network wishes to portray. News networks are meant to be synonymous with truth and objectivity. The remarks that Sanchez made were anything but. As an employee, Sanchez is a direct reflection of the CNN brand. Accordingly, it is unacceptable for him to blatantly air his opinion when he makes his living as someone who is meant to remain fair and objective at all times. If CNN had allowed him to remain on its staff, they would be sending the message to America that they support biased, not to mention offensive, reporting personalities.

On the flip side, however, some are saying that the firing of Sanchez was simply unjustifiable. It has been suggested by bloggers that Sanchez was put into a corner by Dominick and was responding the only way he knew how. Dominick was perhaps probing Sanchez’s response. Additionally, it is somewhat suspect that Sanchez was fired based on comments that included a CNN mention. Often times, TV personalities make offensive and outrageous comments yet they are not fired. It is possible that Sanchez would have been able to keep his position if he would have left a direct reference to CNN executives out of his commentary?

Do you feel CNN was justified in dismissing Sanchez? Would he have gotten the boot had he not directly mentioned CNN? Is this effective crisis management at work?

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9 Responses to CNN stands up to Sanchez

  1. bajohn10 says:

    I completely agree that Sanchez represents the CNN brand. His actions and comments, while not condoned by CNN, are immediately associated with the network. I would assume that in the contract he signed when hired, it mentioned his role as an extension of CNN.

    I believe that CNN was justified in firing Sanchez for his comments. In doing so, they are standing up for their reputation and standard of operation. Sanchez is known as a more outspoken news anchor, yet he did not have the authority to make such a public display of his opinions.

    In my own opinion, if an anchor were to share too much of their personal insight, it would decrease their credibility. Credibility is key, especially today, in maintaining a successful news organization.

  2. mbgiles says:

    I think it was a wise choice for CNN to fire Sanchez immediately following the incident. Whether Sanchez was cornered or not, journalists — especially in broadcast — are taught to always keep composure.

    I think, so far, CNN has done a great job with crisis management. They have a reputation to uphold, and had they not fired Sanchez — CNN comment or not — I think they would have lost a significant amount of trust and credibility in the eyes of their viewers. Jon Stewart has a strong national following and CNN, in my opinion, was wise to react fast and appropriately.

  3. latipton says:

    When you work for a news organization, especially one with such a prominent name, you should absolutely know how important your image is. People are constantly critiquing you by the way you work, relay messages, conduct yourself and everything else. Why go out in public and make racist comments? That affects the image of not only you, but your organization. It’s no wonder he was fired.

    In class, we discussed a scenario where an employee of a company made a speech that went viral, and the company (without really looking into what happened) immediately let her go to dodge media criticism. It was an example of poor crisis management. Sometimes, it is necessary to take a step back and assess the situation before moving forward. However, I don’t think this situation is the same.

    To answer your questions, I think it was effective crisis management. If an employee does not hold himself to the standards that the organization sets, he needs to be dismissed regardless of topic. If CNN was not directly mentioned, he still may have been fired. Because he is such a prominent figure, he represents CNN everywhere he goes and with everything that he says or does. He knew that going into it.

    Chris Jones said it quite simply at the bottom of his article “Audio: Rick Sanchez Calls Jon Stewart A ‘Bigot’, Says CNN Run By Jews.” I’ll let you read the comment for yourself! Then you can listen to the audio provided in the article and decide if you agree. (http://www.thehotjoints.com/2010/10/01/audio-rick-sanchez-calls-jon-stewart-a-bigot-says-cnn-run-by-jews/)

  4. jkramey says:

    Aside from representing CNN, Sanchez represents journalists in general. Their core value is to strive to report unbiased news — so not only were Sanchez’s comments on Friday a blow to his image as a CNN reporter but they also speak to his image as a journalist. I wish him luck finding another journalism job … he’ll need it.

    I do, then, support CNN in their decision to let him go. And yes, I think that had he not mentioned CNN their would have still been tough consequences that would have put his journalistic reputation on the line — I would argue to the point where CNN followers wouldn’t trust him … and with an unfortunate inherent distrust in the media, if your audience doesn’t trust you, then why would they watch you?

  5. hdfulton says:

    Is this effective crisis management at work?

    I’m all about freedom of speech, but Sanchez crossed a line. Yes, he was on a radio show and was following suit with the host — but still. As a CNN anchor, he should have remembered who he was representing before he unloaded his feelings. This story reminds me of the Don Imus case. If you remember, Imus was fired for making racial comments on air. Sanchez’s “everybody that runs CNN is a lot like Stewart” comment could be considered a stab at Stewart’s religion. Similarity?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/12/national/main2675273.shtml

    I’m sure Sanchez’s CNN mention acted as the last straw for network higher-ups — but mention aside, Sanchez made a fool of himself AND the network.

    I’d say CNN acted responsibly. As far as crisis management, it wouldn’t hurt to issue an apology to Stewart, but that’s my two cents.

  6. jmjohn27 says:

    I think he deserved to be fired. You cannot blame the Dominick for what Sanchez said. He may have been looking for a certain response, but Sanchez didn’t have to give him what he was looking for (even if that were the case). Sanchez is a grown man and is perfectly capable of filtering what comes out of his mouth. He is entitled to his opinion of CNN and Jon Stewart but the decision to say what he said was a conscious decision with just consequences. CNN handled the situation appropriately and prevented what could have been a major PR crisis. This is what more companies should do! Even though the action may upset some people, do what is right and in the best interest of the company and the public. It would not be in the public’s best interest to know the anchor on CNN is biased one way or the other. The public needs to have complete confidence that their news reporters can be unbiased when need be … aka on camera.

  7. bmalex says:

    I’m going to chime in with my peers in this case and support CNN’s decision to show Sanchez the door after his comments about the network and other media personalities.

    Katie said it best in her original post, “As an employee, Sanchez is a direct reflection of the CNN brand.” I believe that’s 100 percent true and the part of the case that was so detrimental for Sanchez. We all believe in free speech, but you can’t go out in public, bash your own employer in the mass media, and expect nothing to happen. That’s highly unprofessional, and I believe anyone in the Cronkite School — in PR or broadcasting — would agree with that.

    Personally, I watch lots of CNN as a cable news junkie. For the sake of honesty, I love CNN but watching Rick Sanchez always made me cringe for his lack of talent. I saw this following clip live on-air earlier this year when it happened, and it was the icing on the cake in regard to my feelings. Take a look at it if you can, and it will make your journalism-blood boil and make you wonder how he ever got on-air in the first place.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-0ysIUDNFg

  8. srmccab1 says:

    I also believe it was wise for CNN to fire Rick Sanchez. When trying to represent a brand based on the promise of unbiased information, it is completely counter to this brand for Sanchez to go on air somewhere else and call anyone a “ bigot.” That sounds pretty opinionated to me.

    One thing your blog didn’t mention was that Sanchez also claimed the Jews, like Stewart, own the news media. In my opinion, this was the most sensational statement and probably the one that got him fired.

    Regardless of whether Sanchez mentioned CNN by name, the consequences would have been the same. Sanchez has a high enough profile that his words and actions directly reflect upon and are associated with CNN. And when protecting a brand of truth and objectivity it would certainly taint that brand if Sanchez stayed on after this controversy.

  9. jhickam says:

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Sanchez was unprofessional by insulting John Stewart during this interview whether coaxed into it or not. To me, everything he said came across as jealousy. Sanchez made the comment that Stewart was recently named “the person people trusted the most for news” in between his harsh comments about Stewart’s show. Sanchez compromised his journalistic integrity and for that, I can’t blame CNN for letting him go.

    This situation reminded me a little bit of Megan Fox calling director Michael Bay “Hitler” (http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b143944_megan_fox_dissed_by_transformers_crew.html) What happened as a result? She wasn’t in Transformers 3. CNN made Rick Sanchez a known name just like Michael Bay discovered Megan Fox. In these instances, it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself if you want to keep your job.

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