Debra J. Saunders

By Debra J. Saunders
Published: Friday, November 20, 2015 – 1:00 pm

Donald Trump is like a contagion who infects everyone around him. Once you’ve kissed, you can never wipe off his saliva. Consider the venerable (in its own view) NBC. This year, the network fired Trump, only to find it is Trump Lite.

On June 16, when Trump was announcing his candidacy for the White House, the billionaire reality-TV star faulted Mexico for sending problem people to the United States. Quoth Trump: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Those comments were stupid and racist — and they should have caused Trump to tank in the polls and ended his vanity campaign.

Instead, it cost Trump some must-miss NBC TV — the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Also, he wouldn’t appear on future episodes of “Celebrity Apprentice.” “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” a statement explained. “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

Trump responded that NBC was “weak” and trying to be “politically correct.”

That was before Trump’s participation prompted record numbers of viewers to tune into the GOP presidential debates. Then a funny thing happened to “respect and dignity” at 30 Rock — they did not apply to “Saturday Night Live” when Trump was invited to serve as a guest host.

Of course, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus protested. The Democratic group (there are no Republican members) called on “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels “to disinvite Mr. Trump from hosting ‘Saturday Night Live’ because racism is not funny.” Values, its statement added, “are more important than ratings and ad revenues.”

After the Trump episode aired on Nov. 7, NBC met with six members of the Hispanic Caucus and their aides. A Politico story on the meeting is the impetus for this column. It seems that NBC News President Deborah Turness intended to use the meeting to tout NBC’s advances in newsroom diversity. Instead, she angered the group when she praised NBC coverage’s of Pope Francis talking to a young girl who was afraid her parents would be deported because they are “illegals.”

To read expanded column, click here.