Sanchez Hints GOP, 'Crazy Talk Show Hosts' to Blame For Violent Threats
Published: 3/24/2010 4:26 PM ET
CNN's Rick Sanchez repeatedly insinuated on his Rick's List program on Wednesday that Republican leaders and "crazy talk show hosts that are so right wing" were to blame for ten congressman requesting extra security earlier in the day: "Are some Republicans culpable of stirring this, to a certain degree?" Sanchez led the 3 pm Eastern hour of his program with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announcing that ten of their Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives had requested additional security for their homes and offices due to reported threats of violence. The anchor brought on correspondent Jessica Yellin to give more details. After Yellin reported that House Minority Leader John Boehner had condemned such threats, Sanchez replied, "But Boehner himself has been one of the most critical. He's one of those who has used words like 'socialist' and 'government takeover' and the kinds of things that someone who, maybe, doesn't follow the situation so closely might be led to act in an incivil way. Is this is a chicken or an egg question, of which came first in this case?"
When the CNN correspondent asked for clarification, the anchor bluntly answered, "Are some Republicans culpable of stirring this, to a certain degree, and what would you say to that, if asked?...What would they say, I should say?" Yellin denied that any of the GOP congressional leadership was responsible:
YELLIN: I don't think there's a single member you can point to and say this person is encouraging or condoning violence. I mean, certainly, calling a program 'socialist,' as- you know, inaccurate as you can say that is, is not the same as calling for somebody to do bodily harm, which is just a league different....I've interviewed so many members of the tea party movement. Most of them do not reflect these kinds of views. They don't want to do violence on anyone. They just want their voices heard. But the problem is this- incivility is, sort of, giving cover to some of the most extreme voices out there, and that's why I think that these leaders are coming out and saying, hey, let's call on everybody to be grown-ups.
Sanchez seemingly wasn't satisfied with this answer, and followed-up by rephrasing the question: "Something like 74% of the people who describe themselves as members of the tea party movement, also describe themselves as either Republicans or independents or conservatives. That would mean that these three-fourths of them, right, are following conservatives and Republican talking points. Does that mean that there's a direct link between what Republicans say and what these folks do?"
The correspondent emphasized the distinction between the tea party and the Republican leadership in her answer: "There is no question that the majority of the tea party movement tends to have conservative political views, rather than liberal, and if they had to choose party, most of them would go with the Republican party. But the whole reason they formed the tea party is because they're angry with the Republican party. They don't think it's truly reflecting their views. There's a divide in there."
The CNN anchor did single out some "moderate" Republicans who didn't have any objections to some parts of the recently-passed ObamaCare package in response, but continued by asking, "So, is there a possibility that that message isn't getting out to the American people because these crazy talk show hosts that are so right-wing are out there using the most heated language and the most heated rhetoric that does, in fact, incite people to hate?"
This isn't the first time that Sanchez has bashed conservatives, and specifically conservative talk radio. On the April 8, 2009 edition of Newsroom, the anchor blamed Fox News and "right-wing radio" for the murders of three Pittsburgh police officers. Just over two months later, he teamed up with left-wing Media Matters to slam conservatives, and hinted that the white supremacist who killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum might have been "motivated to move by right-wing pronouncements...on some TV and radio outlets."
On August 20, Sanchez and guest Mark Potok of the liberal Southern Poverty Law center concluded there was a "disconcerting" infiltration of militia groups into the tea party movement. Later in the year in October, he had to apologize after using a fake quote attributed to Rush Limbaugh. Earlier this year on February 22, the CNN anchor painted Ann Coulter and the Conservative Political Action Conference as "hardline."
-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.