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NEW YORK — Fired CNN correspondent Rick Sanchez said Friday morning that he would “absolutely” return to CNN if offered the opportunity, acknowledged he had “a chip on his shoulder,” apologized for his “offensive comments” and called Jon Stewart “the classiest guy.”
In his first TV interview since being fired for his comments last week about Stewart and Jewish people in the media industry, Sanchez appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” in a chat with George Stephanopoulos to once again apologize.
Talking about his comments, he said: “Not only were they wrong, they were offensive.”
Stephanopoulos said they were anti-Semitic, to which Sanchez replied “yeah” before adding “First of all, that’s not what I meant. Second of all, I apologize, and it was wrong for me to be so careless and inartful. But it happened, and I can’t take it back, and you know what now I have to stand up and be responsible for it.”
But he also highlighted that currently no primetime cable newscast, not including news magazines, has African American, Asian American or Hispanic hosts, which he said was one of things that bubbled up inside of him when he made his comments last week.
“It’s tough, I screwed up, George,” he said when Stephanopoulos welcomed him and pointed out that he was at least smiling despite what must have been a tough week.
“CNN is a wonderful, wonderful organization that treated me well,” he said when asked about his past employer and career plans. “CNN didn’t screw up. Rick Sanchez screwed up.” He concluded that he would be glad about a return to CNN. “I’d be happy to go back,” he said.
Recounting the day of the Sirius XM satellite radio interview that got him fired, Sanchez once again highlighted how overworked he was, mentioning three shows and 14 hours of work.
And he did the interview before a softball game his daughter had that he wanted to go to, he said.
Stephanopoulos wanted to dig deeper into where Sanchez’s emotions came from and whether there was a pattern behind his remarks.
After mentioning that Sanchez is known as a strong supporter of Israel, the anchor brought up a Huffington Post column from former New York mayor Ed Koch, in which he mentioned that Sanchez once asked him on the air whether it was a problem that U.S. government officials are fighting Israel’s fight.
“I wanted to ask it without being afraid to ask the questions that sometimes people are afraid to ask, and I think we don’t do enough of that in our business,” Sanchez replied and mentioned his book “Conventional Idiocy.”
“We should address real issues, and sometimes I get myself in trouble, because I confront these types of issues in this way.”
Asked by Stephanopoulos if there was a problem with what Sanchez said or what he believed, Sanchez replied: “It’s certainly not what I believe. I was just being a reporter. I was asking a question every good reporter should ask.”
In the incident with Stewart though, Sanchez said “I think what I was feeling got in the way of what I should have done and said and that’s why I am going through what I’m going through now…I went in there with a chip on my shoulder. I was a little bit angry.”
After talking about the lack of minority anchors on newscasts, Stephanopoulos asked if he felt like a victim of prejudice. “That’s interesting the way you put that,” he replied. “No, I was wrong to say that. And I was wrong to scapegoat Jon Stewart. I was feeling a little bit put out…And I externalized the problem and put it on Jon Stewart’s shoulders, and I was wrong to do that.”
Sanchez also said he asked Stewart in a conversation after his apology Monday why he always picks on him, and Stewart replied: “Because you are the one I like.” The conversation showed him that Stewart is “the classiest guy in the world,” he added.
Asked why he indeed seems to have a chip on his shoulder, Sanchez said: “When I was a little kid, my parents were really poor.” He recounted a childhood story that has stuck with him. Delivering furniture with his father, he once asked a rich woman for a glass of water, “and she said no, you go…and drink outside from the water hose.”
When he asked his father about her reaction, he said in America you have to become somebody to gain respect.
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