This needs to be said. It is not what I want to be doing on a Friday night, but some of the emails and comments sent in response to news of the firing of Rick Sanchez convince me that the facts at least have to be stated again -- whether or not biased minds will accept them.

Sanchez was fired Friday by CNN, in part, for saying things like this in a radio interview Thursday. Talking about Jon Stewart in the context of the comedian being Jewish, Sanchez said, "I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah."


The "yeah" was said with sarcasm. Read my previous Friday posts here and here for further specifics.

Here's what needs to be said: The TV networks are not run by Jews. Hopefully, that is obvious to many readers, but apparently that is not the case with Sanchez and some of the people sending me emails and blog comments tonight.

Some people are sending me comments I can't publish and emails saying Sanchez was fired for speaking the truth. What he said isn't the truth. It is a lie based on something that was true long ago in a very different media world -- but has not been the case for decades. I know, I spent 12 years researching the topic and wrote a book on it, "The Jews of Prime Time," an examination of Jewish identity in front of and behind network TV cameras for 50 years. It was also a dissertation that earned a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2000. The book was published by Brandeis University Press in 2003. I am not trying to sell copies of the book with this post. If this book was written to make money, I wouldn't have published with a university press.

Here is the once-upon-a-time truth that the lie told by Sanchez is based on. The three networks -- NBC, CBS and ABC -- were founded and run by Jewish broadcasting pioneers: David Sarnoff (NBC), Bill Paley (CBS) and Leonard Goldenson (ABC). Like the founders of the Hollywood film industry, they were hands-on businessman who built their companies virtually from scratch. And for a while, network TV was essentially a three-network operation with this trio as the big three.

One of the ironic truths I found in my research is that the three founders, out of self-consciousness about being Jewish and fear of finding disfavor for their companies with WASP-centic Madison Avenue, literally kept Jewish images off the air for almost two decades in prime-time. They wanted "all-American" prime-time lineups, and that meant scrubbing ethnicity, especially Jewish ethnicity, from sitcoms and dramas. Trying to find a historical explanation for that on-screen whitewash was what forced me into studying who owned what when and what kind of owners they were.

But here is the part that matters on this Friday night insofar as it highlights the ignorance shown by the biased statements of Rick Sanchez: This triumverate of ownership was already breaking up by 1971 when Sarnoff died. (His son, Robert, lasted only four years as head of NBC.) By the mid-1980s, Paley and Goldenson were all but out of the business, with ABC sold in 1986 to the midwestern-based Capital Cities.

The conglomerates that have taken over the TV industry since the 1980s are of absolutely no ethnic persuasion. Their only religion is stockholder profit.

For Sanchez to recycle the lie about Jewish ownership and control today is outrageous. And you don't need 12 years of Ph.D. study to know this. Sanchez was obsessed with Fox News, which shredded him in the ratings. He was always popping off about Fox News on his show -- something better managers at CNN would have put a stop to.

But all Sanchez had to do was look at the object of his obsession, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, and ask if it is Jewish owned and controlled. Or, how about GE, which owned NBC? Or, Comcast, which will soon control NBC and MSNBC. Are they Jewish companies by any definition of that term that isn't obscured in bias? Or how about Sanchez's own former home as it was originally founded by Ted Turner, who once ran it much as Paley and Sarnoff ran CBS and NBC?

That's it. This is my last word on this ugly and depressing episode.