A coalition of 40 major Latino groups, many with roots in Los Angeles, has urged NBC's Saturday Night Live to rescind its invitation to Donald Trump, who is scheduled to host the sketch-comedy show Nov. 7.
NBC and SNL's powerful producer, Lorne Michaels, have been silent, with representatives of each also telling us, essentially, no comment.
Now a congressman is getting in on the action. U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois this week fired off a letter to NBCUniversal and its new merger partner, Comcast, arguing that "every hateful and racist thing Donald Trump has said since the moment he launched his campaign is acceptable and no big deal" to the broadcasters if he's allowed to host SNL.
Yesterday the congressman stood before his colleagues in the Capital and said to NBC, "I'm calling you out."
He described Michaels as a Canadian immigrant, and asked, "I wonder if things might have been different if Donald Trump was calling all Canadians rapists, murderers and drug dealers?"
Trump described Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals during his June candidacy announcement. He later said he was speaking of Mexicans here illegally, but the real estate mogul did not back off on his contention that the undocumented bring crime to the United States, a notion that's been debunked by social scientists.
Trump has made illegal immigration the star of his platform, and it has helped to propel him to the top of the polls. Of course, his words have alienated many Latino voters at a time when the Republican Party needs them the most.
Following Trump's initial comments on Mexican immigrants, NBC was quick to say it was "ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump."
"At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values," the network stated.
Gutiérrez, standing on the house floor yesterday, sounded incensed over the SNL flip-flop.
"I do seem to remember Comcast spending a lot of time on Capitol Hill when they had a merger deal with Time Warner and they wanted support from members of Congress," he said. "Comcast said Latinos were so important to them and they had plans to do this, that and the other thing to support the Latino and immigrant community. What happened? The merger didn’t go through so you no longer feel that sense of corporate responsibility to 55 million Latinos. Giving free air time to people who insult and malign them is now part of your business model?"
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Some Latino leaders are using the occasion to criticize SNL for its historic lack of Latino cast members and hosts.
"What if he [Trump] said black people were murderers, rapists and drug dealers? Would you still pitch skits with Donald Trump in some light-hearted banter?" the congressman said. "What if all of the Latino cast members all walked off the job?"
"Oh wait," he said, "you don’t have any Latino cast members currently."