NBCUniversal this afternoon felt compelled to distance itself from its Miss USA/Miss Universe Pageant partner — and presidential candidate/Celebrity Apprentice star — Donald Trump for saying last week that immigrants from Mexico are bringing drugs and crime and “they’re rapists.”
“Donald Trump’s opinions do not represent those of NBC, and we do not agree with his positions on a number of issues, including his recent comments on immigration,” the network said this afternoon.
NBC has deep relations with the presidential candidate. In addition to its partnership with Trump on the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, the real estate mogul has starred on The Apprentice since its inception.
NBCU’s cautious statement follows by several hours Univision’s announcement it had scrubbed plans to telecast the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants to protest “his recent, insulting remarks about Mexican immigrants,” adding, “We will not be airing the Miss USA pageant on July 12 or working on any other projects tied to the Trump Organization.”
NBC still plans to broadcast the two pageants. Meanwhile, a source with knowledge of the situation said they’d be surprised if NBCU-owned Telemundo picked up the Miss USA pageant Spanish-language broadcast.
Celebrity Apprentice, meanwhile, is thought to be on ice for now, according to informed sources, letting NBC dodge that bullet. If NBC airs the show with Trump on air, it would have a considerable equal-time headache. If NBC wants to air it while Trump’s running, they’d have to do so without Trump in the firing-chair, or risk equal time requests from other presidential candidates – what are we up to now, 13 Republican hopefuls? When Trump announced his candidacy last week, NBC issued another of its cautious statements, saying, “We will re-evaluate Trump’s role as host of Celebrity Apprentice should it become necessary, as we are committed to this franchise.” NBC has not yet shot a new season on that franchise – and nearly two years passed between the two most recent seasons, so there is precedent here to wait quite a while before the shows next edition, enabling NBC to simply wait to see how his presidential run plays out.And, if you’re wondering why NBC didn’t come out swinging stronger on Trump, CNN’s got the answer! It’s new poll shows, among Republicans in New Hampshire, Trump and Jeb Bush both poll at 13% when it comes to the issue of Which Candidate Will Best Handle Immigration. Which, stating the obvious as did the network’s Dana Bash, means the guy who is getting blasted by Univision for his rapist line is running neck and neck with the candidate who has a Mexican American wife and thinks “very differently about how you should reform the immigration process.”
Univision being the biggest Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., the last-minute cancellation is a blow the Miss Universe Organization, which is a joint venture of Trump and Comcast-owned NBCU. The Miss USA pageant is scheduled to take place in little more than two weeks and Univision was to have telecast it. Trump told Deadline, and other news outlets today, he is suing Univision, telling NBCU-owned Telemundo that Univision “violated a contract…they defaulted on a contract. They signed a five year contract with no ‘outs’.”
“And, by the way, Univision called me and they apologized for what they’re doing because they felt so stupid and so guilty,” Trump added.
Asked to elaborate, he shot back, “they have an ironclad contract to broadcast Miss USA and Miss Universe….They called me this morning like a little lamb…What they want me to do is not talk” about trade and border issues, he insisted.
“Univision didn’t like it when I said that, because their business is so strongly based in Mexico…The problem that Univision has with me is that I’m honest about trade and I’m honest about the border.”
Among the things Trump said last week, in announcing he was throwing his hat into the presidential race, was a promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico:
“I would build a Great Wall — and nobody build walls better and I will do it very inexpensively – on our southern border and have Mexico pay for it,” he began.
The U.S., Trump said, has become a dumping ground for Mexico, and other country’s “problems. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people who have lots of problems and they’re bringing their problems: drugs,…rapists… and some, I assume are good people.”
It was part of his plan, “to make our country great again,” he said at Trump Tower that morning, ending two decades of flirtation with the idea of running for POTUS.
Meanwhile, there do not appear to be any regulations on the books that preclude a TV network from having business relations with a presidential candidate, like that NBCU has with Trump on the two pageants, while its news division covers that candidate’s campaign.
Fox News Channel said the day Trump formally announced that while he is a candidate it would discontinue his regular appearances on Fox & Friends, effective immediately.