BY BUDDY NEVINS
When I was an editor in Miami, my staff ended up covering Rick Sanchez a lot. He was not your average talking head on TV, but a guy who got in an unusual amount of trouble.
The first time, it was his mouth that nailed him.like it did again this week.
In the latest incident, Sanchez was fired from CNN after a radio rant about Jews controlling the media and how his Cuban American heritage held him back in TV.
Twenty four years ago, Sanchez was an up-and-coming WSVN-Channel 7 anchor. Until his voice popped up on police wiretaps talking to Alberto San Pedro, a Hialeah crime figure nicknamed “The Great Corruptor.
San Pedro was a front page story in 1986. The cocaine dealer boasted he had politicians on his payroll. He also had a relationship with Sanchez that the station apparently didn’t know about until the tapes surfaced.
The two men talked about doing favors for one another. Sanchez, who visited San Pedro in his home, said he was only attempting to gather information for a story.
Later, Sanchez disclosed that he introduced San Pedro to representatives of the Bal Harbour branch of the First American Bank and Trust, where Sanchez was a paid member of the management advisory board, according to a Sun-Sentinel report.
San Pedro served three years in prison.
Sanchez was placed on leave at Channel 7 and eventually ended up in Houston.
He returned to Miami television two years later. The publicity over the San Pedro affair had died down and Channel 7 gave him another shot.
Channel 7s news director was quoted in the Sun-Sentinel as saying that Sanchez had “made an error in judgment (by associating with San Pedro). He was not as sharp as he should have been, and he was immature.
But three years later, he was involved in another controversy. In 1991, the car Sanchez was driving struck a young man near the football stadium after a Dolphins game. The man never fully recovered from severe head injuries and died four years later in a nusring home. Sanchez was charged with DUI.
Under a plea bargain, Sanchez paid a $250 fine plus $100 in court costs, served six months probation, provided 50 hours of community service and took a 15-hour drunken driving course. His driver license was suspended for six months, say newspaper reports at the time.
From Channel 7 he bounced around — MSNBC, back to Miami and eventually CNN.
So it is obvious that despite his stormy speech on satellite radio this week, Sanchez has not been held back because he is Cuban-American.
He has had more chances than a cat has lives. Other careers would have been squashed by his mistakes.
Don’t be surprised to see him get a fourth shot at Miami television.
Sanchez getting fired is just a routine entry on the resume of this deeply flawed television personality.