breaking news about James Lee's standoff at the educational channel's
Silver Spring, Maryland office building dominated Sanchez's broadcast.
Twenty-five minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, during an interview of
former hostage negotiator Tom Fuentes, the anchor summarized Lee's
manifesto: "He apparently wants the Discovery Channel...[to] broadcast
certain commitments to save the planet...He's apparently
anti-war....He's concerned about global warming, talks about Malthusian
sciences, continues to come back to saving the planet." He then asked
Fuentes, "So...if you get my drift, Tom, he's very concerned. He's an
activist, may be very well-meaning, but he's now put himself in a
situation where he, the police officers and his hostages' lives are
endangered. What do you do?"
Later that hour, Sanchez again described the eco-terrorist as a mere "activist" but also added that he was a "very dangerous man." He also asked correspondent Josh Levs, "How
can a man claim to be for saving the planet, apparently a peace
activist, so to speak, while at the same time be threatening to blow
himself and other people up and carrying a handgun?"
minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour, the CNN anchor skirted giving a
definitive statement on the criminality of Lee's actions: "For those of
you just now joining us, we've got a pretty good bead on who this guy
is. We understand what his concerns have been for some time. He's a
bit of an activist, a guy who truly believes, seemingly, in his heart
that he needs to do all he can to save the planet. Most watching this
would argue he may have taken it way too far on this day by endangering
the lives of people in this building, as he seems to be doing right now."
Eleven minutes later, Sanchez did go so far to give a negative label of the eco-terrorist's views:
You have a right to believe whatever it is you want to believe, no
matter how strange. There's people who still say that they believe that
there's all kinds of stuff going on out there that may not be true. That
doesn't lead one to believe that any- on any given day, they're going
to take a gun or explosives and walk into a building and threaten the
lives of people- although, I guess you must admit that even back then, you must have been taken aback. I mean, those theories seem- I'll just say it- weird.
before the bottom of the hour, the anchor went even further about Lee's
manifesto: "Police are trying to talk the guy out of the building by
negotiating with him, by trying to reach some conclusion with him- that
he's achieved his goal of letting the world know what his concerns are about saving the planet, which are his concerns- albeit extreme- but those are his concerns and he appears to want to make sure that those concerns are heard."
the last ten minutes of his program, it seems that Sanchez couldn't
make up his mind about Lee. At one point, he gave the following
statement: "You hear of a lot of people who have causes. This particular
person's cause is saving the planet. But it's how he goes about it, in a very unique way- even
beyond what he's doing here today, by endangering the lives of people
stuck in a building with explosives, waving a handgun with hostages-
but what he actually says in his writings, in his manifesto that have
certainly perked our curiosity and yours as well." After Levs gave more
background on the eco-terrorist's views, he replied that it was a "paradoxical theory, while it may be, and certainly, on this night, a dangerous one as well."
was much more definitive on April 8, 2009, after three Pittsburgh
police officers were shot and killed by a crazed gunman: "That
weekend tragedy involves a man who allegedly shot and killed three
police officers in cold blood. Why? Because he was convinced, after no
doubt watching Fox News and listening to right-wing radio, that quote,
'Our rights were being infringed upon.'" When several congressmen
asked for extra security after threats were made against them around the
time of the vote on ObamaCare in March 2010, the CNN anchor repeatedly insinuated that Republican leaders and conservative media were to blame: "Is
there a possibility that that message isn't getting out to the American
people because these crazy talk show hosts that are so right-wing are
out there using the most heated language and the most heated rhetoric
that does, in fact, incite people to hate?"
- Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.