Celebrity Apprentice | Media Matters for America

Celebrity Apprentice

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  • Trump’s Interview On Fox Was A Good Reminder Of Why NBC Needs To Cut Ties With Him

    On CNN’s New Day, Poppy Harlow Questions Trump’s Logic Of Attacking NBC’s Coverage Because He “Makes Money For The Network”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an interview with Fox News, President Donald Trump called NBC “despicable” for their coverage of him because he “made a fortune for NBC with The Apprentice,” demonstrating once more why NBC needs to end its financial relationship with the president immediately.

    CNN’s New Day highlighted the conflict of interest, with guest host Poppy Harlow questioning Trump’s logic that he should get favorable coverage from NBC because he “makes money for the network.” CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter added, “It seems he thinks NBC is on the hook now with him forever. It's a reflection of his business mindset, his business relationships.”

    NBC allowed Trump to remain as an executive producer of The Celebrity Apprentice, which raises a conflict of interest for the network as they have an incentive to weigh the costs of aggressively reporting on the president against the revenue that could be lost if Trump’s reputation is damaged.

    Contrary to Trump’s complaining about NBC News, many at the network have gone out of their way to normalize Trump. Indeed, on the same day that Trump complained about NBC, Trump was accompanied on Air Force One by MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin.

    From the March 16 edition of CNN’s New Day:

    POPPY HARLOW (CO-HOST): Also I want to get your guys’ take on this interview [Trump] did. He’s done very few, but the ones he’s done have been with friendly outlets. Here’s what he told Tucker Carlson on Fox just last night about how he talks to the American people. Listen.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    DONALD TRUMP: I think that maybe I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Twitter because I get such a fake press, such a dishonest press. I mean, if you look at -- and I'm not including Fox because I think Fox has been fair to me -- but if you look at CNN and if you look at these other networks, NBC -- I made a fortune for NBC with The Apprentice. I was very good to NBC, and they are despicable. They're despicable in their coverage. CBS, ABC, -- you take a look at what's going on, I call it the fake press, the fake media. It is a disgrace, what's happening.

    [END VIDEO]

    HARLOW: So let me get this straight, Brian Stelter. If one makes money for a network, that entity should not objectively cover that said person who happens to be commander in chief. What kind of logic is that?

    STELTER: It seems he thinks NBC is on the hook now with him forever. It's a reflection of his business mindset, his business relationships. This is a president who uses language differently than other presidents. But now, as Bill was saying, that’s coming back to haunt him in various ways. There’s even moments where President Trump tries to parse language when it benefits him. He said to Tucker Carlson, “When I was talking about wiretapping, I used the word wiretap in quotes so it could mean many different things.” Well, actually, in his tweets he did quote the word wiretap once, didn’t quote it twice -- two other times. So he was trying to use a sort of predictable presidential parsing of language when it benefits him, but at other times he’s so loose with words. I noticed at his rally last night, what he’s doing is saying “We will do this, we will do this,” still acting -- still talking like he’s campaigning.

    Click here to tell NBC to Dump Trump

  • NBC’s Historic Trump/Celebrity Apprentice Catastrophe

    NBC Debased Itself And Got Nothing In Return

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE

    Actor/bodybuilder/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Friday that he was leaving The Celebrity Apprentice, cementing the season as a total failure. And the roots for that failure are the ties to the toxic brand of President Donald Trump.

    When NBC announced in 2015 that Schwarzenegger would host the program, the network sold the move to the media as an effort to take the show in a completely different direction. CNN’s Brian Stelter and Frank Pallotta noted that the audience “has dropped considerably over the years.” NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming, Paul Telegdy, said that while Schwarzenegger would use the same format as Trump, he had a “fresh take on how to take it to new heights for today's audiences.”

    It is clear this 'moving in a different direction' act was a facade from the very beginning. In December of 2016, Variety broke the news that Trump would remain an executive producer on the show. In response to the ensuing firestorm, Schwarzenegger admitted that he knew about Trump’s continued role ever since he accepted the gig in 2015.

    If Schwarzenegger knew, there is every reason to presume that NBC was aware as well. This means that NBC put into production a show that Trump the candidate had a financial interest in -- the same show where, according to reports during the campaign, Trump had previously engaged in disgusting behavior on set, drawing allegations of sexism from more than 20 staffers. A former show staffer said that there were far worse tapes than the Access Hollywood clip of Trump bragging about grabbing women’s genitals. At no point during the campaign did NBC seek to address any of these concerns. Schwarzenegger later said that no one was thinking about Trump’s potential presidency when the series was shot in February of 2016.

    While Schwarzenegger and NBC were busy not talking about Trump’s ongoing ties to the series, we did learn that while Trump bragged about personally handing out charitable donations, NBC actually paid for them -- and that was only revealed because of great reporting from David Fahrenthold and Alice Crites of The Washington Post. It got so bad that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow went on air and pled with her parent company and Mark Burnett Productions to release tapes of Trump from his time on the show to clear things up. This entreaty was prompted by the release of the Access Hollywood tape of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. Even though Access Hollywood, an NBC show, owned the tape, it wasn’t NBC that broke the story, but again, Fahrenthold at The Washington Post.

    The gravity of the conflict of interest between NBC and Trump crystallized once Trump’s executive producer credit was announced. A statement from Kellyanne Conway, now a counselor to Trump, implied that he would be involved in producing the show in his “spare time.” Trump himself then said he would "devote ZERO TIME" to it.

    Schwarzenegger began his rollout tour with an interview on the Today show that would be a harbinger for what was to come. Schwarzenegger and host Matt Lauer gushed over the new season (which, fine, as those things go), but it was when Trump’s involvement came up that things went completely off the rails. From Media Matters’ transcript of the show:

    MATT LAUER (HOST): You seem like a great pick. [Trump] has announced he's going to retain his executive producer credit. So after January 20 he's going to be president of the United States and executive producer of the Celebrity Apprentice. Does that sound right to you?

    ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: What was great about it was that he was part of the negotiation. So I mean I get millions of dollars for hosting the show but NBC doesn't have to pay for it. Trump makes Mexico pay for it. Isn't that great? That was the best deal that he's done. That's true.

    LAUER: I set you up for that. That was my fault. He says he’s going to spend zero time on the show, he’s going to focus obviously on the presidency. But would you be surprised if you got a call mid-season and it said, look, Arnold, I have a couple of tips for you?

    SCHWARZENEGGER: I always like to get advice but I don't think that he will have time. I think it is perfectly fine that he has the executive producer credit because he created the show with Mark Burnett together, so why should his credit go. I totally see it. But he made it very clear that he has no interest in being involved. It is now my show. I am the host. I am the new boss, and I am going to run this show. But any time he has advice -- or anyone has advice, if you call me one day and say, “Look I saw the show. If you would add so and so as a celebrity,” I would take your advice.

    It’s after the bizarre Mexico line from Schwarzenegger that things really go downhill. Both Lauer (the NBC newsman who hosted a presidential forum) and Schwarzenegger want to have it both ways: They state for the record that President Trump would not actually be involved, but they also tease potential involvement. What’s inescapable from this conversation is that the Celebrity Apprentice is still built around Donald Trump’s brand.

    And that was a major problem. How would NBC report on a potential scandal involving Trump? If Trump retained a percentage of the show’s profits, would advertisers rush to the show to curry favor with the president of the United States? NBC’s main tactic was to say that MGM was the company actually producing the show, but that hardly addresses the ethical concerns. And beyond the ethical concerns were the business concerns. Trump’s brand has become increasingly toxic as he has made more and more unhinged and bigoted statements in public.

    Nearly a year after the Schwarzenegger-Trump season of Celebrity Apprentice was shot, it premiered in January -- and ratings were abysmal. By February, Schwarzenegger and Trump were openly feuding over viewership numbers, with Trump bizarrely using his National Prayer Breakfast appearance to focus on the subject.

    On March 3, Schwarzenegger announced he was leaving the show, having suddenly become realistic about Trump’s involvement. He told Empire magazine that Trump’s toxic brand was to blame for the failure:

    "It's not about the show," [Schwarzenegger] explained. "because everyone I ran into came up to me and said 'I love the show... but I turned it off because as soon as I read Trump's name I'm outta there!'"

    ...

    "When people found out that Trump was still involved as executive producer and was still receiving money from the show, then half the people [started] boycotting it."

    Social media campaign #grabyourwallet appears to have been a factor, imploring consumers and sponsors alike to ditch Celebrity Apprentice in direct response to the US President's continued involvement. The boycott's success may well be reflected in the show's viewing figures and the hasty retreat of commercial backers.

    "Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline." Said (sic) Schwarzenegger. "With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don't want to participate as a spectator or as a sponsor or in any other way support the show. It's a very divisive period now and I think this show got caught up in all that division."

    Trump interrupted his tweets about a Watergate-level scandal that he personally uncovered while on vacation in Florida to again complain about Schwarzenegger.

    What Trump did not mention: The Celebrity Apprentice was also a financial disaster because of his own continued involvement. From TheWrap:

    NBC’s reboot ofCelebrity Apprentice, with new host Arnold Schwarzenegger, wasn’t exactly a ratings killer. But as the network decides whether to renew the show, it faces another problem: Half its sponsors from last season have bailed out after boycott threats.

    A campaign called #GrabYourWallet, which called on sponsors to abandon the show because of President Donald Trump’s involvement with it, said six of the show’s 12 corporate backers from last season have agreed not to return. None of the companies explicitly cited Trump as their reason, but campaign organizer Shannon Coulter says the gold-plated writing is on the wall.

    “I think it’s pretty clear at this point that the Trump brand name is toxic,” she told TheWrap.

    So, to recap: NBC sullied itself ethically, lost sponsors, tied its brand to a sexist bigot and white nationalist fave, stonewalled about Trump’s misogynistic and likely abusive history with the program, and made its news division cheerfully take part in a massive conflict of interest. And the entire endeavor failed miserably.

    NBC, next time save yourself the trouble and just take our advice.

  • NBC moves to the right as Trump readies to take office

    Joe Scarborough, Megyn Kelly, Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice Connection, And Greta Van Susteren Will Just Make Things Worse

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE

    UPDATE: Greta Van Susteren's MSNBC show "For The Record" will reportedly begin January 9.

    After running a proto-fascist campaign, President-elect Donald Trump will bring his hate, misogyny, and bigotry to the White House at the end of the month. And when he does, NBC will have a machine ready to normalize him. Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough is cozying up to Trump, the network is literally paying Trump through Celebrity Apprentice, and MSNBC is reportedly in talks to hire Greta Van Susteren, a longtime Fox News host with a history of treating Trump with kid gloves. And now Megyn Kelly, who famously buried the hatchet with Trump by lobbing him a softball interview and then withheld information about him until after the election, is also going to work for NBC.

    By any measure, the Trump normalization effort at NBC begins at the top, with the network actually paying money to Trump as a result of his Celebrity Apprentice executive producer credit. The problem here is simple: NBC will have a fiduciary relationship with the president of the United States. The network now has an incentive to weigh aggressive reporting about the president-elect against what it might lose in revenue if Trump’s reputation is damaged. NBC, after all, is the network that had the hot mic tape of Trump bragging about sexual assault -- but it’s not the outlet that broke that news.

    The tangles of the Trump-NBC connection were reflected in Matt Lauer’s recent interview with new Celebrity Apprentice host Arnold Schwarzenegger, in which the two downplayed the conflict of interest posed by Trump’s role in the show. Far from raising concerns about a financial arrangement between a network and the president, Lauer instead teased the increasing personal involvement Trump could have on the show as the season goes on. That’s normalization, and it’s driven by a desire for profit margin, plain and simple. As the Trump administration draws nearer, we’re seeing signs that this approach could repeat itself in the news division.

    Megyn Kelly

    Megyn Kelly announced her move to NBC on Tuesday. Kelly’s schtick is old hat for those who watch Fox News closely. She’ll have one good moment that gets an absurd amount of press and defines the narrative, and she’ll follow it up by making numerous terrible remarks -- often involving bigotry or race baiting of some kind -- that mainstream journalists just seem to forget in the long run. In fact, promoting bigotry was something of a specialty for Kelly at Fox News, as she helped build her name by obsessively pushing the baseless conspiracy that the Obama administration had declined to pursue voter intimidation charges against the New Black Panther Party for racial and political reasons. She would later infamously declare that both Santa Claus and Jesus were white. As Gawker’s Sam Biddle put it, “To Megyn Kelly, black rage is pervasive when she wants you scared, insignificant when she wants you ignorant.”

    The thing is, with a certain crowd of media elites, Kelly’s terrible remarks never stick the way the good moments do. Just look at all the mainstream positive puff pieces on Kelly. One is left to wonder how many of these people regularly watched her show.

    Her experience with Trump during the 2016 election is typical Megyn Kelly: In the first presidential primary debate, she confronted Trump about his track record of insulting women. With that query, she cemented her reputation among two crowds: the media elites who loved it, and the “alt-right” misogynists who are railing against Kelly to this day.

    But despite her very public feud with Trump, during the campaign, Kelly’s Fox News show was a perfect example of normalization. Even though she posed a tough question to Trump during the debate (and asked the occasional tough question to his surrogates), she also gave Trump a welcoming platform and reinforced the bigoted tropes that he built his campaign on.

    Even weeks before the debate, Kelly had set the tone for her campaign, defending Trump’s racist remarks about immigrants by positively citing Ann Coulter’s book Adios America.

    And then, just days after being showered with mainstream praise for her debate question, Kelly turned to disgraced former detective Mark Fuhrman for analysis about protests in Ferguson, MO. (Fuhrman is so racist that even Fox News host and Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson has called him a bigot.) And in the weeks and months following the debate, while Trump raged about Kelly and the press ate it up, Kelly was mainstreaming a hate group, pushing bigotry against transgender people, complaining about a “thug mentality” in black communities, sneering at black protesters, and attacking a Department of Justice plan to address anti-Muslim rhetoric. Kelly blamed African-Americans who were the victims of police violence and even lashed out at one black protester for looking a police officer in the eyes. And all this was just in 2015, not to mention 2016. None of this behavior got the press that her big moment confronting Trump did.

    And even when Kelly failed, it didn’t stick. Her prime-time show on Fox Broadcasting Co. last May was supposed to be a huge breakout moment. It was her chance to show she could be a “star” without the lower expectations that come with being a journalist on Fox News. Instead, the show was roundly considered a disaster, and it contained one of the worst Trump interviews of the entire election, up there with anything Sean Hannity aired. And yet, when news broke of Kelly moving to NBC, this catastrophe was largely forgotten.

    That’s not all. Kelly met with Trump before the taping of that special and then withheld details about the meeting in order to make news with her book, Settle For More, released November 15. It was only after the election that Kelly revealed Trump was trying to bribe journalists behind the scenes. If Kelly’s secretive meeting with Trump sounds familiar, it’s because her new colleague Joe Scarborough is playing the same game.

    Joe Scarborough

    Scarborough spent a good part of the election season carrying water for Trump. He questioned whether the timing of sexual assault allegations against Trump were “a coincidence.” He defended a Trump ad that the ADL condemned as anti-Semitic. He lied about Trump’s prior foreign policy positions. He mocked David Fahrenthold’s reporting for The Washington Post about the Trump Foundation. He called Trump’s racism and bigotry just part of a “character” that Trump was playing. He ignored Trump scandals. He excused Trump’s rhetoric, claiming Trump was “exhausted” from being on television. He credited Trump with a “dominating” debate performance. He dismissed Trump’s history of birtherism. He sneered at the idea that Trump was graded on a curve. He downplayed a comprehensive New York Times report on Trump’s treatment of women.

    Like Kelly, when Scarborough and his co-host were given a high-profile prime-time interview with Trump, they completely dropped the ball, conducting a friendly chat rather than pressing him on any issue. (The casual tone continued when the cameras were off.) It’s no wonder that even a conservative radio host declared that Scarborough had “turned his show into a Trump Super PAC for six months.” An NBC pollster made a similar point. And Morning Joe devolved into a screaming match when Bill Kristol called out Scarborough for “rewriting history.”

    From time to time, Scarborough was lucid about the danger Trump poses, even as late as August when Scarborough demanded the GOP ditch Trump as its nominee. Famously, Scarborough told viewers that Trump had allegedly asked during a security briefing why America cannot use its nuclear weapons. But Scarborough’s occasional Trump skepticism never lasted.

    Since the election, Scarborough and Brzezinski have been all in for Trump. They have met with him in person and even boasted on air that they “speak frequently” with the president-elect. Scarborough said that he personally thinks Trump believes in climate science, despite evidence to the contrary. He also downplayed pro-Trump fake news, and he and Brzezinski both tried to whitewash the racism and bigotry out of Trump’s campaign.

    Along with meeting with Trump and defending him on air, Scarborough and Brzezinski also regularly get scoops on his transition. In December, the pair, dressed in pajamas for their holiday show, broke the news that Trump was willing to start a nuclear arms race.

    Scarborough also recently met with Trump at Mar-A-Lago during Trump’s New Year's’ Eve party.

    Scarborough denied being there for a party, telling CNN’s Brian Stelter that he was meeting with Trump to lobby for an on-air interview and that he was surprised to see people in tuxedos when he arrived. On Monday, he spoke with CNN’s Dylan Byers about the uproar over the incident, repeatedly invoking other reporters’ relationships with various politicians to defend himself.

    Scarborough’s defensive answers to Byers give away one major problem with his close relationship with Trump: The need to protect Trump’s reputation can cloud Scarborough’s judgment. Morning Joe’s absurd defense of Trump’s position on climate change is a perfect example. With no proof in his favor, Scarborough simply asserted that Trump believes in climate science, ignoring mountains of evidence to the contrary.

    Greta Van Susteren

    Trump’s increasingly gushing coverage on MSNBC may soon not be limited to Morning Joe. MSNBC reportedly may hire former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren for its 6 p.m. hour (Update: Van Susteren's move is now official). Van Susteren has given Trump a welcoming platform for years. Before the Republican primary, Trump appeared more times on Van Susteren’s On The Record than on the rest of the Fox News prime-time shows combined. During the Republican primary, Van Susteren had Trump on for over five hours, dwarfing other candidates. During these appearances, Trump pushed birtherism, claimed Obama didn’t write his own memoir, and made bigoted remarks about refugees. And Andrew Kaczynski chronicled more of Trump’s moments from Van Susteren’s show.

    To be fair, On The Record was not the worst on Fox News, and Van Susteren may well have been playing to the conservative audience. But the absolute worst Trump hagiographic moment during his campaign came during her “documentary” interview with his campaign. Here’s how the special looks when you take out the Trump family’s answers.

    Onlookers harshly criticized the special, with MSNBC host -- and potential future colleague -- Chris Hayes declaring that it was reminiscent of state media under a dictator.

    As of now, Van Susteren’s hiring is still a rumor and may not come to pass. But either way, a likely factor in MSNBC’s desire to add her to its lineup is her established track record of getting access to Trump, which she certainly didn’t accomplish because she subjected him to tough interviews.

    What the future may bring

    There are other problem spots on NBC News and MSNBC. Meet The Press fell for Trump’s spin on climate change, just as it bought his take on North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law. The show has also at various points ignored or glossed over stories like the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Trump University settlement, the investigation of the Trump Foundation, the proven lawbreaking at the Trump Foundation, the Democracy Spring protests, some of Trump’s sketchy ties to Russia, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. The hosts did find time to let Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz relitigate the invasion. They also let Glenn Beck attempt to rehabilitate his reputation -- twice. And it’s not just one show. The spectre of increasing Trump normalization talk on MSNBC brings to mind the network’s shady history in the first term of the Bush administration.

    MSNBC’s prime-time voices like Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell are resisting efforts to normalize Trump. But it’s unclear whether they can win that fight with the leading voices at MSNBC and NBC News pushing the other way, much less with the network itself in bed with Trump. And if Trump puts net neutrality rules on the table, NBC’s parent company, Comcast, would surely have an interest.

    All of this bears close watching. But the long and short of it is that the network seems primed to become a Trump normalization machine.

    In short, Fox News finally has competition.

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko

  • NBC News Is Struggling To Report On Its Own Trump Problem

    NBC's Financial Relationship With The President-Elect Puts Its Reporters In An Impossible Situation

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    NBC and its parent company, Comcast/NBCUniversal, have put the network’s news division in an impossible situation by entering into a financial agreement with the next president of the United States. As NBC News reporters grapple with the announcement that President-elect Donald Trump will remain an executive producer on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, many aren't discussing the intolerable conflicts of interest this business arrangement poses to NBC. In this deal, NBC will have a fiduciary relationship with the president, making it financially invested in Trump’s reputation -- a situation that threatens to compromise the news division’s political reporting. The arrangement is now providing a case study in how conflicts of interest affect the quality and the integrity of reporting.

    Variety reported on December 8 that Trump will stay on as an executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice. As Media Matters pointed out, because of the business relationship, NBC is now financially invested in Trump's reputation and will have an incentive to weigh aggressive reporting about Trump across its news platforms against what the network might lose in revenue if Trump's reputation is damaged. The arrangement implicates NBC News, CNBC, and MSNBC.

    NBC News’ reports on the announcement have generally presented the conflict as a possible problem for Trump, but not for NBC -- and that’s when the network reports on the deal at all. NBC’s flagship Sunday political show, Meet the Press, failed to address the story entirely on the December 11 edition. Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who also anchors the weekday program Meet the Press Daily, said on December 8 that Trump being “connected to The Apprentice is not news to the American public.” NBC correspondents Kristen Welker and Peter Alexander both characterized the deal as a conflict for Trump, while downplaying NBC’s own conflict. Welker noted that there is “new scrutiny of the president-elect's decision to stay on as executive producer of The Apprentice,” referring to the deal as “Trump’s business entanglements,” and adding, “NBC Entertainment declined to comment, noting MGM owns and produces the show.” Joe Kernen, host of CNBC’s Squawk Box, told a critic, “Don’t bring it to your conflict thing again.” MSNBC’s Ari Melber argued that Trump remaining an executive producer isn’t a conflict, “it’s just … weird,” and made a point of saying that “NBC Entertainment is a separate division of our company” from NBC News.

    MSNBC reporters have also tried to compare Trump’s deal with NBC to Obama receiving royalties for his books. But, as The Associated Press explained, Obama’s “books’ publishers are not financially tied to news divisions.”

    By contrast, other media outlets have noted NBC’s numerous conflicts in this arrangement. On ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos asked incoming Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus: “The FCC regulates NBC corporate. Corporations could try to curry favor with the president by placing their products on the show, buying advertising. Isn't that an issue?” CNN’s Dylan Byers explained that the business relationship “presents a thorny situation for Comcast/NBCUniversal, which controls the [product integration] deals” that companies make with Celebrity Apprentice, which, according to Byers, often range from $5 million to $9 million. Trump personally profits from those deals, making NBC the middleman through which companies can “curry favor” with the president. And Fortune magazine noted that NBC was already criticized in October “for reportedly sitting on the Access Hollywood footage from 2005 that showed Trump boasting about committing sexual assault,” which the network reportedly withheld due to “fear of spurring yet another lawsuit from Trump.”

    Media and ethics experts have also pointed out the untenable situation NBC has created for itself. Marcy McGinnis, a former CBS News executive and journalism professor, called the arrangement “mind-boggling” and said it’s “a clear conflict of interest” to have a company “that has a news division …. covering the president of the United States” when he “has an interest in a show on that network.” Aly Colon, a journalism ethics expert, noted people’s desire to “believe in an independent news division not affected by business ties,” saying, “A lot of people find it difficult to believe there is a wall between news and entertainment.” And NPR’s David Folkenflik pointed out that, as president, Trump will be appointing the regulators tasked with scrutinizing the media, which NBC has an obvious interest in. Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert explained on MSNBC’s AM Joy that “No amount of disclosure is enough here. Is NBC for the next four years, every time they report on Trump, [going to] say, ‘By the way, our parent company has a financial relationship with Donald Trump’?” Boehlert also asked, "what if a company, in theory, says, 'Let's give The Apprentice $5 million and Trump could get a cut of that?' I mean, we're just paying off the president.”

    NBC cut ties with Trump last summer, declining to air his Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and stating that the network did not want to be associated with Trump because his bigoted statements had defied its core values. What’s unclear now is whether NBC believes Trump’s values have changed or whether the network believes such statements became acceptable with his election.

    Sign Media Matters’ petition telling NBC to dump Trump.

  • When NBC Dumped Trump Because He Violated Their Core Values

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The announcement that President-elect Donald Trump will remain an executive producer on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice opens up a series of conflicts of interest for both Trump and NBC News. It also defies NBC’s previous claim that they did not want to be associated with Trump because his bigoted statements had defied the network’s core values.

    Trump began his presidential campaign with a blistering, widely-denounced attack on Mexican immigrants. In his June 16, 2015, presidential announcement speech, he claimed that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” instead claiming that most immigrants were rapists or drug dealers.

    Two weeks after that speech, NBC announced that they were “ending its business relationship” with Trump due to what it termed his “derogatory statements” about immigrants. The network announced that they would no longer air the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, which were part of a joint venture between the network and Trump and were scheduled to run during the presidential election. According to the statement, “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.”

    At the time, the network stated that Celebrity Apprentice “is licensed from Mark Burnett's United Artists Media Group and that relationship will continue.” But NBC News reported that this was because “Trump ceased his involvement with the reality show during the presidential bid.” Now, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway is suggesting that Trump might actively work on the show as president in his “spare time.”

    In any case, since NBC released their statement cutting ties with Trump, he has not demonstrated that he shows “respect and dignity for all people.” Instead, he has continued to denigrate people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and women. In fact, NBC fired Billy Bush over the former Access Hollywood host’s role in an open mic tape that featured Trump admitting to sexual assault. NBC didn’t want a business relationship with someone who laughed at such comments, but apparently has no qualms with the man who said them.

    It certainly raises questions about what NBC really considers “cornerstones of our values.”

    Tell NBC: Dump Trump

  • NBC Should Address Conflict Of Interest Concerns Following Report That Trump Will Remain On Celebrity Apprentice Payroll

    NBC Will Have A Financial Relationship With President Trump As Long As Celebrity Apprentice Is On The Air

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET


    Variety
    managing editor Cynthia Littleton reported “Donald Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’” creating a conflict of interest for NBC’s ability to provide unbiased coverage of Trump while promoting a show built on Trump’s reputation.

    On December 8, Variety reported “Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC,” but “the fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump’s segue from a private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief.”

    Donald Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” which is returning Jan. 2 after a two-year hiatus with new host Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    [...]

    The larger issue for MGM, NBC, and the White House is the payment that Trump will receive for the series. It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum. NBC has ordered eight episodes of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC. MGM declined to comment on the financial terms of Trump’s deal. A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. NBC declined to comment.

    [...]

    The fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump’s segue from private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief. However, past presidents have published books during their time in the White House, so there is precedent for a president earning royalties while in office. In the case of President Obama’s 2010 book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,” his profits from the Alfred A. Knopf publication were donated to a charity supporting the children of disabled veterans.

    In continuing their financial relationship with Trump, NBC will invite skepticism into how NBC and MSNBC can fairly cover the sitting president when there is a financial incentive to protect his reputation and the ratings of the Celebrity Apprentice. Furthermore, Trump and NBC should address the conflict of interest concerns raised by the fact advertisers may help to personally enrich President-elect Donald Trump by purchasing ads during Celebrity Apprentice.

    NBC should move to address concerns raised by Variety’s reporting, and publicly state how it will balance its financial relationship with Trump while maintaining the network’s journalistic legitimacy.