Discussing Harry Reid's racially-charged comment about Hispanic Republicans, Rick Sanchez miraculously managed to turn the embattled senator's gaffe into an example of his opponent Sharron Angle's incompetence. On the prime time "Rick's List" yesterday, the CNN host actually gave serious consideration to the Nevada Democrat's claim while exploring the extent to which the Angle campaign is "blacking out" Hispanic media outlets.
"Also, do you think a Hispanic-American can be a Republican?" teased Sanchez. "Harry Reid doesn't think so. And I'm going to tell you what Hispanic groups are saying about his opponent as well."
Instead of interviewing a Hispanic Republican who is offended by Reid's insensitive remarks, Sanchez brought on Miguel Barrientos, a liberal talk show host, to "drill down" on why Angle is allegedly ignoring Hispanic journalists.
"These charges against Angle, are they real?" asked a bewildered Sanchez. "Is she really blocking out the Latin media? Or is this just a case of opportunism by her opponent, Harry Reid?"
After Barrientos confirmed that Angle apparently does not feel the need to reach out to media personalities who describe themselves as "activists" who "get involved very heavily in the political area," Sanchez wondered if the Republican Senate nominee is merely an incompetent campaigner:
Well, look, maybe she's just not good at this. Maybe she's hired people who aren't very savvy at reaching out to the media. Maybe they're not very organized and they don't return phone calls. You know, there's a stretch between someone not being competent at dealing with the media and somebody blocking out a specific part of the media, simply because they don't like them, because they're Hispanic or black or Asian or whatever the accusation is.
Reid drew fire when he claimed he doesn't "know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican." Rather than criticize Reid for insulting the intelligence of every Hispanic Republican in America, Sanchez characterized the Senate majority leader's statement as something that "some, possibly even what many, Americans think."
A transcript of the relevant segment can be found below:
August 11, 2010
8:30 P.M. E.S.T.
Also, do you think a Hispanic-American can be a Republican? Harry Reid doesn't think so. And I'm going to tell you what Hispanic groups are saying about his opponent as well. This is a hot political story, and I'm going to take you through it when we come back. This is RICK'S LIST. I'm glad that you're here.
RICK SANCHEZ: I am so excited about that. Can't wait to share it with you. Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. It may be what some, possibly even what many, Americans think. But should it be said by the Senate Majority Leader? What am I talking about? Should Harry Reid suggest that no self-respecting Hispanic-American can be or should be a Republican? Play it, Kel.
Sen. HARRY REID (D-NV): I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK? Do I need to say more?
SANCHEZ: No, you don't need to say more. Now, as a South Floridian, I can tell you, senator, that there are many Hispanic Republicans. The question is whether Senator Reid is taking advantage of his opponent's problems with Hispanics in Nevada. A problem that seems to have come to a head lately with the Latino reporters saying that Sharron Angle is blacking out the Latin media, blacking them out. They say they're not invited to her press events, that they're not set press releases, and their phone calls aren't even being returned. Those are the accusations. Those are the charges. Now we asked both camps about this. Here's what I got from Reid's camp. Right? He sent me this tweet saying, look, Rick, "Angle's anti-saving jobs, helping unemployed, social security, Medicare, and says immigration reform overriding our culture." So he takes a shot at her. Well, here's what Angle tweets, alright. "Harry Reid pulls out race card again, whacks himself in the head." So you could see that they're going at each other here. Now we asked Angle to join us tonight but she declined. I'll read you her comment nonetheless. "We have brought on more communication staff," she says, "in recent days, and we will be reaching out to all media outlets aggressively between now and Election Day." "This attack," she says, "is an attempt by Harry Reid to distract the voters from his record and his insensitive comments yesterday regarding Hispanic voters." So here we go, tit-for-tat, right? Joining me now to wade through all this is Miguel Barrientos. He's a community activist and radio host for KLAV-AM out in Las Vegas. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to roll the R's while on American television. That was kind of neat.
All right. Let's start with this. These charges against Angle, are they real? Is she really blocking out the Latin media? Or is this just a case of opportunism by her opponent, Harry Reid?
MIGUEL BARRIENTOS, KLAV-AM talk show host: First of all, hello, Rick. We have been working in the community through our radio show. We're activists. We get involved very heavily in the political area. And we have contacted Sharron Angle's office saying we want to hear what's going on, we want to know what the tea party feels about, you know, opening the door to the Latinos, especially when you're talking about immigration issues. And we have not gotten any phone calls returned. We don't get support from their staff to say, "this is what we feel." We always hear what they say on the local print media, but doesn't come forward and talk to our community to our media.
SANCHEZ: Well, look, maybe she's just not good at this. Maybe she's hired people who aren't very savvy at reaching out to the media. Maybe they're not very organized and they don't return phone calls. You know, there's a stretch between someone not being competent at dealing with the media and somebody blocking out a specific part of the media, simply because they don't like them, because they're Hispanic or black or Asian or whatever the accusation is. Are you sure when you make this accusation that you're saying, "look, she's got a problem with Hispanics?"
BARRIENTOS: Well, I'm not – I don't think she dislikes Hispanics. When you have potentially 100,000 voters that are going to be coming out to vote in the elections and she's not paying attention to the segment of the community, maybe you're right. Maybe she doesn't understand, maybe she's incompetent, maybe she's not interested in the Latino vote at this point.
SANCHEZ: She says that she's going to try and hire some people to reach out to you. What's your reaction to that?
BARRIENTOS: Well, I think now that you brought it to her attention, maybe she's going to get a little smarter on how she's going to run the campaign and get some Latinos out there to maybe speak on her behalf, which I think is a good idea.
SANCHEZ: There's a possibility that someone in her camp would feel like you're not going to give her a straight shot anyway. In other words, that much of your coverage is going to be directed towards the Democrat because the voting record there in Nevada tends to be from Hispanics, more of a Democratic vote than a Republican vote. How would you answer that charge?
BARRIENTOS: Well, we have issues on the table, Rick. We have issues such as immigration reform. You know, this is something that we have been fighting since 2003 here in Nevada. We've been working with the politicians. The Republican Party has basically ignored our call. They don't support anything that has to do with immigration reform. The DREAM Act is a big issue that our community is faced with, and we need to open up the doors for higher education for those who qualify. I mean, it's always negative, negative, negative, when it comes down to our issues. So how are we supposed to feel when they're not really taking care? We're part of the constituency in her district.
SANCHEZ: We'll leave it at that, then. We understand your point of view and we'll continue to drill down on this topic. Miguel Barrientos, thanks so much, sir.
BARRIENTOS: Thank you, Rick.