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Ironic hypocrisy: CNN fires Rick Sanchez, hires Eliot Spitzer

CNN firing anchor Rick Sanchez for making anti-Semitic remarks is completely justifiable and would not be the least bit hypocritical had it not occurred the very same week they debuted Parker Spitzer, a show co-hosted by Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced former governor with a penchant for prostitutes.

As you know by now, Sanchez appeared on an XM-Radio show and made anti-Semitic remarks and called The Daily Show host Jon Stewart a bigot.  Though the official CNN release says Sanchez “abruptly left” the network shortly after the interview aired, several other sources and common sense tell us he was fired for making the comments.

Sanchez’s firing was just.  His remarks were offensive and uncalled for – even if a day doesn’t go by where a cable news host somewhere doesn’t make unsupported accusations of bigotry.  However, firing him the week prostitute-hiring ex-governor Eliot Spitzer debuts on the network is the peak of ironic hypocrisy.

It is ironic because no one knew who Rick Sanchez was before this incident and the scandal would only boost his popularity, and hence, his ratings.  It’s hypocritical because the only reason Eliot Spitzer’s creepy grin is on CNN is because people know who he is because his scandal boosted his popularity.

Now, I’m all for forgiveness and second chances.  Michael Vick paid his dues and deserves the chance to play in the NFL again.  The difference is Vick is playing again because of his talent and ability, not because he gained fame from killing dogs.  Spitzer, politically experienced and charismatic as he may be, would not be given a prime-time slot unless the network thought his reputation would help CNN compete with the insanity that now comprises cable news.  Because who doesn’t want to hear what the sex-scandal-governor thinks about tort reform?

The problem is America’s confusion of depravity-based celebrity with well-earned capability.  If someone becomes a household name on account of immorality, this fame is not justification to profit from him/her as a mainstream star.  The moist poignant example of this is Paris Hilton, who turned an infamous rise to fame into film, recording, writing and designing careers while legitimate actors, musicians, authors and designers are waiting tables and working legitimately for their dream.

Thankfully, Parker Spitzer bombed in the ratings, but his presence on CNN is setting a bad precedent for the already over-sensationalized world of cable news – where chalkboards display made-up conspiracy theories and three people are daily labeled “the worst person in the world.”  If Spitzer somehow turns it around and makes his show a success, competing networks will hire their own infamous political pseudo-celebrity to take a job that rightfully belongs to a seasoned journalist – leading to a world where “Countdown with Marion Barry” is a legitimate possibility.

We live in a “screw up, move up” society where many have embarrassed their way to the top and today’s scandal is tomorrow’s opportunity.  As Spitzer is on-air, CNN is feigning morality while Sanchez cleans out his desk, looking to profit from his foot-in-the-mouth disease.  Sanchez has apologized and will probably lay low for a while before mounting a glorious comeback.  He has to – everyone knows who he is now.  He’s money, baby.