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,
MARTIN: So, what's the number?
SANCHEZ: But it does appear to be up.
OK, so according to Sanchez, threats against Obama are up. Maybe not 400 percent, but up. Until now.
On today'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
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: 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
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
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?