[Update, 6:45 pm Eastern: Video and audio clips from segments added.]
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez concluded Tuesday’s Newsroom program with an admission of sorts about his misrepresentation on the previous day of John McCain’s words about the GOP’s outreach to Latinos: “I paraphrased to my colleague Roland Martin that McCain had said the party needs to recruit ‘competent’ Hispanics. I just want to be fair about this, right? He didn’t use the word ‘competent’ when he said that” [audio clips from both segments available here].
During this correction at the end of the 3 pm Eastern hour, Sanchez related his version of what had transpired near the end of Monday’s Newsroom program during a segment with CNN political analyst Roland Martin: “Yesterday, in trying to defend the meaning of Senator John McCain’s statement about the Republican Party being in, what he called, ‘a deep hole’- those were John McCain’s word [sic]- with Hispanics, and needing to recruit more Hispanics, as he’s telling the Republican Party- I paraphrased to my colleague Roland Martin that McCain had said the party needs to recruit ‘competent’ Hispanics. I just want to be fair about this, right? He didn’t use the word ‘competent’ when he said that.”
Actually, the CNN anchor made his paraphrase of McCain’s remark before he defended what the senator possibly meant by it:
SANCHEZ: Well, there are two stories I want to get your input on. The first one- let me watch- two John McCains. John McCain this weekend on ‘State of the Union.’ Let’s do that first. Dan, what he said on ‘State of the Union’ first about the problem with Hispanic voters for Republicans.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I’m of the belief that unless we reverse the trend of Hispanic voter registration, we have a very, very deep hole that we’ve got to come out of.
SANCHEZ: Now, he went on to say, interestingly enough, that the Republican Party needs to find competent Hispanics who can fit into the party. They need to actually recruit them- is the word he uses.
MARTIN: Did he actually say competent?
SANCHEZ: Competent- they have to be competent. They can’t be- hold on- now, here he is getting a chance to vote on Sonia Sotomayor, who many people think is competent.
SANCHEZ: Watch- this is moments ago.
MCCAIN: Regardless of one’s success in academics and in government service, an individual who does not appreciate the common sense limitations on judicial power in our democratic system of government ultimately lacks a key qualification for a lifetime appointment to the bench. For this reason, and no other, I’m unable to support Judge Sotomayor’s nomination.
SANCHEZ: Well, some people will look at that and see the John McCain on Sunday, from the John McCain on Monday and say how do you reconcile those two?
MARTIN: Right. Well, first of all, I never hear anybody use the word ‘competent’ when we’re talking about white guys. I mean, it’s always a matter of using it with African-Americans or Hispanics.
SANCHEZ: Well, but in defense of John McCain, you know what he’s trying to say.
MARTIN: No, no, no- no, no- no.
SANCHEZ: We don’t just go out and get any Hispanic. Let’s get good Hispanics.
MARTIN: Yeah- but, again, I never- I never hear the qualify- I never hear the qualifier when talking about white guys. And so, I always have an issue with that.
SANCHEZ: Your point is well taken.
Sanchez concluded his correction by reading what Senator McCain had actually said, and hinting that the Arizona Republican possibly had the “competent” term in mind when he made the remark during the State of the Union interview with CNN’s John King: “What McCain said- that was, the party needs is to recruit Hispanics, but not just because they’re Hispanic- possibly the same meaning, but not the same word. We just thought we’d let you know.”
Well, Mr. Sanchez, NewsBusters definitely knew that McCain hadn’t used the word “competent,” and we’re not convinced that that was what he meant in the comment.