All right: Jon Stewart’s post-Rick Sanchez meltdown quip that “All he has to do is apologize to us, and we’ll hire him back!” (evoking Sanchez’s fatal accusation that a conspiracy of Jews runs the news) was pretty funny. The problem is that it and a couple of other barbs he aimed at the fired and disgraced ex-CNN host will be heard by millions three weeks from now, on October 21, when the special “Night Of Too Many Stars” is finally aired. Comedians never have to be kind, fair, empathetic or classy, and often are not—just think about all the jokes about Lindsay Lohan, a sadly immature young woman seemingly incapable of curbing self-destructive behavior—but gloating is gloating, and doing the Flamenco on the face of a fallen adversary is neither attractive not admirable…even if it’s funny.
Stewart is not the only one: Rush Limbaugh spent a good twenty minutes this morning insulting Sanchez, who had taken some shots at Rush over the years. Stewart, however, was the catalyst for Sanchez’s anti-Jewish rant. It should be enough for the Daily Show host that his foe dashed his career and reputation to bits in an ill-conceived frontal assault. By the time the “Night Of Too Many Stars” is broadcast, Rick Sanchez will be full of self-loathing and contemplating cutting his own throat, if he isn’t already. He had a two-hour show on CNN and a career on the rise, and now, entirely due to his own wretched judgment and big mouth, he has joined Helen Thomas, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and a few others in the dreaded group known as “radioactive public figures,” from which successful escapes are rare.
There may be a funny joke or two I could make about the guy who aimed his gun at me but somehow shot himself in the head, but when he’s lying and moaning in a pool of his own blood is not the time to make it. I suspect Stewart knows this, but couldn’t resist; after all, Sanchez called him a bigot. Stewart should have exerted more restraint, especially since now, thanks to his removal from the ranks of talking heads, Sanchez can’t defend himself.
Among the “110 Rules Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” that formed the foundation of his ethical compass, George Washington memorized #22, like many of the 110, wise counsel about human interactions, even for comedians. It says,
22. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
As usual, George knew best.