Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2015
Just a few months ago, NBC fired Donald Trump. Now it’s giving him a coveted hosting slot on “Saturday Night Live”–to a growing chorus of criticism.
Latino advocacy groups, joined by Hollywood celebrities and others, are calling on NBC to disinvite Trump from his Nov. 7 appearance, citing inflammatory remarks Trump made about Mexican immigrants in the speech announcing his White House run in June.
“We are appalled that you would enable Trump’s hateful speech for nothing [more] than a ratings ploy,” the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 40 civil rights and policy organizations, said in a letter to “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels and NBCUniversal Chief Executive Stephen Burke.
A social media campaign called #RacismIsntFunny has drawn support from celebrities including John Leguizamo, Margaret Cho and Al Madrigal, and petitions on MoveOn.org and Change.org have gathered 370,000 signatures protesting the Trump appearance.
While these other media appearances have drawn little controversy, Trump’s scheduled visit to “Saturday Night Live” is generating much more flak because it’s seen by his detractors as a cynical ratings ploy that could benefit his political campaign and potentially validate his views on immigration.
“‘SNL’ has become one of the most highly coveted platforms for candidates looking to connect with the American public,” Murguía said. “It’s appalling for a show to showcase a man whose campaign has been built on bigotry and demagoguery for the sake of buzz and ratings.”
Ratings are a reliable factor in booking guest hosts, so it’s likely that a potential “Trump bump” influenced NBC’s decision. As Trump joked the first time he hosted in 2004, “It’s great to be here at ‘Saturday Night Live,’ but I’ll be completely honest. It’s even better for ‘Saturday Night Live’ that I’m here. Nobody’s bigger than me, nobody’s better than me, I’m a ratings machine.”
“SNL” has also come under fire for lack of diversity in its cast, which has become an additional point of contention with Latino activists.
In its four decades on the air, “Saturday Night Live” has had just two Latino cast members, both of them men: Horatio Sanz, who is of Chilean descent, and Fred Armisen, whose mother came from Venezuela.