Donald Trump is hosting “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, and the ratings are likely to be huge, despite concerted efforts by Latino groups and others opposed to Trump’s “racist and xenophobic remarks” to convince NBC to cancel his appearance.
Pressure on NBC to disinvite Trump as the guest host came not only from advocacy groups but also artists, filmmakers and academics around the world; members of Congress; and a petition with more than 500,000 signatures that protesters delivered to the network this week.
“Some individuals have suggested that we should not prevent Trump from hosting SNL, but that instead we should voice our opposition by not watching,” said a statement by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “This view misses the point. Trump has targeted Latinos with his racist and xenophobic remarks and his rhetoric is causing real harm to the Latino community. We cannot allow him the time nor a platform such as SNL to advance such views.”
LULAC has led the effort lobbying NBC to “dump Trump” as the show’s host. The group has organized a “Stop the Hate” march to take place Saturday at 6 p.m., which starts in front of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and continues for six blocks to NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center.
That scheduled march follows a demonstration earlier this week, also organized by LULAC and sponsored by nearly two dozen organizations, including Move On, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and the National Council of La Raza.
“There’s mounting evidence that Donald Trump’s racist demagoguery is resulting in real-world violence and physical and verbal intimidation,” Mushed Zaheed, deputy political director of Credo Action, one of the participating groups, said in a statement.
Flyer promoting anti-Trump march
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Monday drafted an official resolution calling on NBC to remove Trump from the broadcast:
“Be it resolved that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls upon NBCUniversal, Broadway Video, and SNL Executive Producer Lorne Michaels to disinvite Mr. Trump from hosting Saturday Night Live because racism is not funny. And be it further resolved, that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus urges NBCUniversal to stand by its earlier commitment to end its relationship with Mr. Trump because the values of ‘respect and dignity for all people’ are more important than ratings and ad revenues.”
In a letter to Comcast and NBCUniversal,Rep. Luis V. Gutirrez (D-Ill.) saidthat by allowing Trump to host SNL, the company issaying to America “that every hateful and racist thing Donald Trump has said since the moment he launched his campaign is acceptable and no big deal.”
“It is a big deal,” Gutirrez wrote. “He said Mexicans are rapists, criminals and drug dealers, and to be clear, when he said Mexicans were those things, he was tarring all Latinos and all immigrants I think I speak for a lot of Americans, especially immigrant Americans and Latino Americans, when I say that if SNL is allowed to proceed, it would be a huge corporate blunder.”
NBC so far has not responded to the criticism and on Thursday said, “SNL has no comment.” The network did air promotional spots for Saturday’s show featuring Trump, but a promo where he refers to opponent Ben Carson as “a complete and total loser” was removed by NBC.
According to a tweet by NBC correspondent Peter Alexander, NBC had posted the link with eight SNL promos by mistake before removing three of them.
“.@nbc spox: NBC accidentally posted wrong @YouTube link w 8 @nbcsnl promos – 3 of them not for air, inc Trump calling Carson a ‘real loser.'”
In the original promo, SNL cast member Cecily Strong says, “Because of equal time rules for television, Mr. Trump can only speak for four seconds in this promo.” Trump then says: “So let me just say this. Ben Carson is a complete and total loser.”
Carson, for his part, said on Friday that he would not appear on Saturday Night Live if asked. Responding to Trump’s comment, Carson said, “I discovered, when I was in grade school, that those tactics really are for grade school. And I’ve gone far beyond that now.”
Trump, not surprisingly, is relishing in the controversy, saying he welcomes it and it’s actually a good thing.
“Look, I think they should demonstrate,” he said this week while promoting his new book in New York. “Ratings will go even higher than they are going to be. It’s going to be one of their highest-rated shows ever and they’re very excited about it.” Asked about the petition against him, Trump said, “It’s only going to make it hotter.”
Saturday’s appearance will be Trump’s second time hosting SNL since he first did so in 2004. But even though Trump himself has not appeared in over a decade, he has been a consistent character for more than 20 years.
Trump has been under fire from Latino groupssince this past summer when he announced his candidacy and described Mexicans as criminals and rapists. His remarks, coupled with pressure from Latino groups, prompted NBC to sever its Miss Universe ties with Trump.
In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday, Cuomo said it was surprising that NBC would book him. “I thought you were at war with them, then all of a sudden they wanted to have you on. You say it’s because of ratings,” he said.
“You’re never at war when you get great ratings with a network, OK” Trump replied. “Nobody gets ratings like me.”
Speaking with Yahoo! News Live, Colombian-born John Leguizamo said he would not be watching the program. “I’m all for freedom of speech, but this is different,” Leguizamo said. “He’s not doing it politically This is celebrating somebody who, if he’d said those things about any other ethnic group, he would not be on SNL.”