Politics & Policy

NBC’s Birther

Is the network proud of The Donald?

The media are in total agreement that Donald Trump is a ridiculous racist. Last week, there were paroxysms of outrage, many of them emanating from MSNBC, about Mitt Romney’s attending a fundraiser with The Donald. How dare he associate himself with such a reprobate and clown!

Of course, it is NBC, owner of some of the finest properties in the mainstream media and of MSNBC, too, that is the biggest promoter of Donald Trump besides Trump himself. NBC made The Donald a reality-TV star with The Apprentice, and continues to fatten his pockets with The Celebrity Apprentice.

NBC has done more for Trump the Birther than Mitt Romney ever will. So, since associating with Trump is so atrocious, I set out to ask folks at NBC and its news organizations, “Are you proud of your associations with Mr. Trump?”

I asked my question to multiple NBC and MSNBC representatives. The only person who responded at all to my many inquiries was Erika Lewis, a senior press manager for NBC Entertainment Publicity, who said, “I’m busy now. Can’t talk. Send an email.”

So an e-mail was sent. And another, and another. Needless to say, I have yet to receive an e-mail from her. My last e-mail read:

I realize you were very, very busy the other day and couldn’t talk to me. Now that a few more days have passed and I have sent you several e-mails, I’m wondering if you now have time to answer my question: Is NBC proud of its association with Donald Trump? I’m about to publish my story and your refusal to answer might give some people the impression that NBC is not proud of its association with a loundmouth Birther who peddles obnoxious conspiracy theories about the President of the United States. Which might raise the question of why NBC continues to profit from its association with said Birther. I’m sure you’ll want to clear all this up, so that’s why I’m emailing you yet again. Thanks so much Erika and I hope this finds you well.

Even after reaching out to MSNBC media inquiries, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Ed [Schultz] Show, and the good people of The Today Show, nobody would answer my question.

NBC executives stood up to The Donald in the past, as they forced Trump to decide by May 15, 2011, if he wanted to run for president or stay for another season, so that NBC could gauge advertisers’ interest in their fall lineup. Trump would probably have been happy to continue the charade for at least a few more months, but the suits forced his hand.

NBC was also more than happy to profit from the publicity Trump made for himself. At the time, executives told reporters that Trump’s will-he-or-won’t-he shenanigans were nothing more than a ploy to raise his profile, but the 20 percent increase in The Celebrity Apprentice’s ratings owing to Trump’s publicity stunt surely made them smile.

It’s easy to understand why The Celebrity Apprentice has remained popular. The Biggest LoserThe Amazing Race, and Survivor are all evidence that Americans like reality TV. And nobody is tuning in to The Celebrity Apprentice to see if Clay Aiken or Arsenio Hall will win. (Mr. Hall beat out Mr. Aiken in season twelve, by the way.) Folks want to watch The Donald tell some unfortunate bloke, “You’re fired!” He’s damn good on TV.

Which is fine. There’s no law saying that ignoramuses can’t be successful television hosts. Still, it’s quite strange that no one has pressured NBC — given the standard its own news talent has created — to cut its ties with Donald Trump, when they employ him and profit from him.

The next time Rachel Maddow questions the Romney campaign’s relationship with Trump, the question should be turned on her. Why not criticize her own corporate overlords who do business with him? They surely value her opinion more than the Romney campaign does. The next time Ann Curry badgers a Romney surrogate about the candidate’s ties to Trump, she should be asked, “Are you proud of your employer’s and, by extension, your relationship with Donald Trump?” The next time Matt Lauer dons his glasses and leans forward to ask a Romney surrogate a pointed question about Donald Trump, he should be asked about the big-shot NBC executives who literally begged Trump to stay on for another season of The Celebrity Apprentice.

Good luck getting an answer. I’m still waiting for one.

— Noah Glyn is an editorial intern at National Review.


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