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Rick Sanchez to Pataki: Did Your Opposition to Mosque Lead to Koran Burning?

On Wednesday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez tried to connect the overwhelming opposition to the planned Ground Zero mosque to a Florida pastor's "Burn a Koran Day" event. Sanchez asked former New York Governor George Pataki, "Do you feel in any way that some of this backlash...led by some fine gentlemen like yourself...has kind of paved the way for that controversy, and if so, do you feel guilty at all?" [audio clip available here]

Sanchez interviewed Pataki during the prime time edition of his program. Just before the bottom of the 8 pm Eastern hour, the anchor raised Pastor Terry Jones's planned inflammatory protest: "Let me ask you one final question, if I possibly can. There's this new hullabaloo going on in Gainesville, Florida, with this pastor who wants to literally burn Korans. And now, we're getting protests in Afghanistan- our generals are saying this guy's going to get our troops killed."

The CNN personality then asked his question. Pataki didn't even acknowledge the premise behind his question, and launched into a condemnation of Jones: "I can't claim or understand what the motive of this person in Florida is. All I can say is that it's wrong, it's reprehensible, and it should be condemned by all Americans. And it's just- we are a free and a tolerant society. Any sign of bigotry, such as this person is talking about in Florida, is utterly unacceptable and has to be condemned."

This isn't the first time that Sanchez has asked an out-of-the-ordinary question on the Ground Zero mosque issue. During an earlier interview of Pataki on August 10, the anchor bizarrely wondered whether investigating the funding behind the planned mosque would lead to investigations into Catholic and/or Mormon funding: "If you start going into who is giving money...you've got to go to Rome and start asking where the money is going into Rome....and you have to go the Mormons and ask...what are they doing with their money?"

The transcript of relevant portion of the segment from Wednesday's Rick's List:

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you one final question, if I possibly can. There's this new hullabaloo going on in Gainesville, Florida, with this pastor who wants to literally burn Korans. And now, we're getting protests in Afghanistan- our generals are saying this guy's going to get our troops killed. Do you feel in any way that some of this backlash that has been seen, led by some fine gentlemen like yourself in New York City, has kind of paved the way for that controversy, and if so, do you feel guilty at all?

PATAKI: I can't claim or understand what the motive of this person in Florida is. All I can say is that it's wrong, it's reprehensible, and it should be condemned by all Americans. And it's just- we are a free and a tolerant society. Any sign of bigotry, such as this person is talking about in Florida, is utterly unacceptable and has to be condemned.

SANCHEZ: George Pataki, former governor of the State of New York, thanks for coming by, sir.

PATAKI: Thank you, Rick.

-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.