Mess with Jon Stewart, risk massive embarrassment: That's what the "Daily Show" host proved Monday night, when he slammed former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez for the less-than-kosher remarks he made about Jewish people in the media last week.
Stewart opened by announcing that he only heard Sanchez's now infamous interview on the radio program "Stand Up! With Pete Dominick" after taping Thursday's edition of "The Daily Show" and lamented that he had to wait until Monday to respond. First, he did so with sarcasm.
"I think Jon Stewart's a bigot," Sanchez was heard saying in a taped replay of "Stand Up!"
"Oh my God!" Stewart squealed. "Rick Sanchez knows my name!"
Stewart especially took Sanchez to task for the personal barbs -- that Stewart "grew up in a suburban middle-class New Jersey home with everything that you could ever imagine."
Smirking at the camera, Stewart said Sanchez "really nailed what it was like growing up in central Jersey in the early '70s, the fortunate son of a single mother in the education field."
After considering that it might be mean to target someone who'd just lost his job -- Sanchez was let go from CNN on Friday -- Stewart decided to go ahead and poke fun at an "extremely pokable show" anyway. Clips from Sanchez's "Rick's List," the two-hour-long program that was a staple of CNN's afternoon lineup, were spliced with scenes from NBC's "The Office," making Sanchez out to be as clueless and condescending as Dunder Mifflin's Michael Scott (Steve Carell).
"Carell is leaving 'The Office,' NBC is looking to replace him," Stewart declared, with no small amount of glee. "Sanchez is available!"
Stewart took his first swings at Sanchez Saturday night during the taping of the comedy charity event "Night of Too Many Stars." Sanchez might be listening. Gawker.com reported that his wife, Suzanne Sanchez, updated her Facebook status Monday to say that the former CNN anchor called Stewart to apologize, "they had a good talk," and Sanchez "feels horrible" and "deeply apologizes to anyone who was offended."
It's hard to believe Sanchez didn't see this coming. Broadcast news is littered with instances of on-air personalities losing their cool, their respect and sometimes their jobs after saying something less than smart.
Had he considered what became of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Helen Thomas and the like, maybe he wouldn't have said that Stewart is bigoted toward "everybody else that's not like him," that "everyone who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart" and that he "can't see someone not getting a job these days because they're Jewish."
But he did. And now he's out of work. Below, five recent broadcast faux pas from which Sanchez could've, would've, should've learned:
1. Using the n-word 11 times in the span of five minutes? Yep, that's the kind of thing that can end a career, as Dr. Laura Schlessinger learned in August. After the website Media Matters posted audio from an Aug. 10 conversation Schlessinger had with a black female caller in which she offered such enlightened observations as "Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****r, n****r, n****r." Schlessinger announced she would end her radio show so she could say the things she wanted to say.