Hope Rogers, Staff Writer
Donald Trump, the current front-running Republican presidential candidate, has made the news several times for his blunt statements. He is best known for his desire to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to secure the country’s borders.
During a speech in June, he announced, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Since that statement was made, many protest groups, mostly comprised of minorities, have attempted to silence Mr. Trump when he appears for campaign speeches or talk shows. Saturday night was no exception when the presidential candidate hosted Saturday Night Live.
On November 7th, a group called Deport Racism offered to pay $5,000 to anyone who was willing to interrupt the live broadcast. The group’s offer was taken by one of the show’s cast members – Larry David, who impersonates Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Luke Montgomery, the group’s campaign director, announced following the broadcast, “We are excited to reward Larry David with $5,000 cash for ‘standing up’ to Donald Trump on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and speaking the truth about his anti-Latino racism, even though he was joking.” Indeed, David’s “racist” comment was met with laughter from fellow cast members and the audience after he explained himself.
Despite the criticism from groups such as Deport Racism, Saturday Night Live received its highest overnight ratings since 2012. Joseph Ellis, a Wingate University political science professor, commented on why the ratings were so high. “Saturday Night Live has long included political figures in their programs (Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama). What separated Trump is that is he isn’t a career politician. Even though he fancies himself a businessman, he is an entertainer above all.”
Although Trump is not widely considered to be a ‘career politician’, other serious Republican candidates such as John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, and Mike Huckabee have all written to NBC to request the same amount of air time, which is approximately twelve minutes out of the show’s 90.
Nick Corasaniti from The New York Times speculated why Trump’s time was so limited. “Mr. Trump’s screen time was very limited for a typical host of “S.N.L.” Both Amy Schumer and Miley Cyrus, who hosted episodes in October, were on screen for more than 20 minutes, evidence that NBC was aware of, and perhaps expecting, some requests for equal time.” Despite these requests, Saturday Night Live is not likely to have another presidential candidate host the show before the election next November.
As to whether or not the show itself was enjoyable, those opinions differed greatly. Although Dr. Ellis enjoyed the skits that he watched, he noted, “The problem with political comedy is that no one wants to make fun of their own candidate or views, and therefore only about half your audience will ever buy in.”
Based on the online reviews, it seemed that Trump political supporters and opposers were unable to separate their personal biases regarding his performance; they either loved it or hated it based on how they viewed his political stances. NBC, alongside the initial protests to cancel Trump’s appearance, continues to face criticism as groups such as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus demand an apology for letting Trump host the popular live sitcom.
After a failed meeting with NBC executives, the group members admitted that it was not likely to happen. Until then, group representative Gutiérrez noted that “members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other members of Congress and Senators will find it hard to take anything you (NBC) say about diversity and Hispanic representation seriously until this is addressed.”
Edited by Jenna Turner and Brea Childs