Topic category: Policy/Think Tanks
CNN's Sanchez Retracts His Claim of a 400 Percent Increase in Presidential Death Threats
On August 28, CNN Newsroom anchor Rick Sanchez shared disturbing information with his viewers:
A CNN source with very close to the U.S. Secret Service confirmed to me today that threats on the life of the president of the United States have now risen by as much as 400 percent since his inauguration, 400 percent death threats against Barack Obama -- quote -- "in this environment" go far beyond anything the Secret Service has seen with any other president.
This "confirmed" information, of course, was eagerly picked up by sites like Daily Kos and Racism Review.
On September 16, Sanchez started backing off from his earlier statement in this exchange with the always objective CNN political analyst Roland Martin:
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he (former President Jimmy Carter) is obviously painting a broad brush, but what he's realizing is that you do have elements of race when you talk about the level of criticism, when you talk about the viciousness, if you will, in some of the things that are being said, when you look at comments being made at rallies, when you look at posters, things along those lines, the stuff you're seeing online, all kind of different responses, when you see the kind of hateful language being targeted to the first lady. You got Tammy Bruce calling her trash. You got people who say he hates white people and white culture. And, so, not only that -- reports show a 400 percent increase in terms of threats against this president. Now, explain to me what's the difference between him... SANCHEZ: By the way, by the way, by the way, just let me -- just as a caveat, I checked on that, and the Secret Service has told me that that figure has been exaggerated. We did a reporting. But, nonetheless... MARTIN: So, what's the number? SANCHEZ: But it does appear to be up. MARTIN: Absolutely.
OK, so according to Sanchez, threats against Obama are up. Maybe not 400 percent, but up. Until now.
On Thursday's CNN Newsroom, Sanchez was forced to change his story once more, and tried to wash his hands of any role he played in disseminating bogus information. He began with a video clip of Washington, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton today questioning the head of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan.
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C. DELEGATE: It is well known and in the press over and over again that this president has received far more death threats than any president in the history of the United States, an alarming number of death threats. I'm not going to ask you for the details on that. But here we had the first state dinner, not of just any old president, but of the first African-American president. Was there any attempt to increase security given all you know, which is much more than we know, about threats to this president of the United States? SULLIVAN: Ma'am, no matter who the president is... NORTON: I'm asking about this president. And my question is very specific. Given death threats to this president, was there any attempt to increase the security at this event, yes or no? SULLIVAN: Ma'am, I can't talk about that. I would be more -- number one, I will address the threats. I have heard a number out there that the threat is up by 400 percent. I'm not sure where that number... NORTON: Is it up at all? We're not asking for the threat number. SULLIVAN: Well, I would -- I think it can answer you, ma'am. It isn't at 400 percent. And I'm not sure where that number came from, but I can... (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't hear, gentlemen. NORTON: Please don't assign to me a number in my question. I just asked you if the threats were up. Are the threats up or not, Mr. Sullivan? SULLIVAN: They are not. The threats right now in the inappropriate interest that we're seeing is the same level as it has been for the previous two presidents at this point. NORTON: This is very comforting news. (END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: Comforting, indeed. Did you hear that? That was the head of the U.S. Secret Service answering a question that we have been asking for months on this newscast. Are assassination threats against the president of the United States up 400 percent? We have heard that number tossed around again and again. We have seen it written, we have asked the Secret Service. And they would not give us a direct answer as well. Today, they did. The answer is no. Threats against this president are about the same, you heard, as they were for two immediate predecessors of this president. And, as you heard Delegate Norton say, that is comforting news.
Sanchez has indeed "heard that number tossed around again and again." And he's one who tossed it, although he doesn't even now admit it. He's just patiently been waiting for a direct answer, don't you know?
The theme that Barack Obama is in greater danger than other presidents because of American racism is a popular one throughout the mainstream media. Don't people like Rick Sanchez just hate it when facts get in the way?
Biography - Mike Bates
Mike Bates wrote a weekly column of opinion - or nonsense, depending on your viewpoint - for over 20 years. Additionally, his articles have appeared in the Congressional Record, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Mensa Journal. He has been a guest on Milt Rosenberg's program on WGN Radio Chicago, the Bruce Elliott show on Baltimore's WBAL, the Jim Sumpter show on the USA Radio Network and the New Media Journal's Blog Radio. As a lad, Mike distributed Goldwater campaign literature and since then has steadily moved further to the Right. He is the author of "Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths." In 2007, he won an Illinois Press Association award for Original Column