This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
NBC executives insist they have no regrets about hiring Donald Trump to host "Saturday Night Live." But judging by how they reacted to questions about their decisions including an outburst from a top programmer it's clear that's not entirely true.
Here are the facts: In June, after Trumps comments that Mexicans were "bringing drugs" and "crime" across the border and that "they're rapists" NBC Universal announced it was cutting ties with the developer/GOP presidential candidate and host of "The Celebrity Apprentice." The network issued this statement:
"At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBC Universal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump."
And yet, four months later, NBC hired Trump to host "Saturday Night Live." So questions from members of the Television Critics Association about that decision were legitimate.
NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt tried to parse the definition of being in business with Trump. Hiring him to host "SNL" didn't count; it was different from having him host "The Apprentice" or producing Miss Universe and Miss USA.
He also tried to justify hiring Trump to host "SNL" by asserting, "At the end of the day, he was on the show for 11 minutes."
Greenblatt correctly argued that Trump is a newsmaker. No one credible is criticizing NBC News for interviewing Trump.
"He's on every news show, every morning show, every nightly show, every cable news show," Greenblatt said. "He's been on Colbert. He's been on Fallon. He was on 'SNL,' and I think that reconciles quite easily with we're not in business with him."
No, it doesn't.
Yes, Trump has been on other networks, which didn't publicly cut ties with him. And, giving Greenblatt the benefit of the doubt, you can argue there's a difference between Trump guesting on "Tonight" and hosting "SNL."
But hiring him to host "SNL" is not just a mixed message, it's the very definition of hypocrisy. And Greenblatt didn't help himself when he said the only ones concerned about this are "the press and some special interest groups."
Greenblatt, NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke and NBC's president of alternative and late-night programming, Paul Telegdy, said having Trump host "SNL" was worth the blowback. But their behavior indicated otherwise. Telegdy had a downright childish outburst when NBC's statement was read back to them.
"You've either got a good memory or you're reading it from somewhere," he said in a mocking tone, barking out the company line again that hiring Trump as a host doesn't constitute being in business with him.
If this wasn't something they're touchy about, Telegdy and Greenblatt wouldn't have gotten so upset. It is hypocrisy. It is a big deal.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.