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NBC In Bed With Trump — The Media’s Latest Grand Failure

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NBC In Bed With Trump — The Media’s Latest Grand Failure

NBC, Trump, Celebrity Apprentice

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters. 

Can we even count all the ways that NBC’s ongoing business relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, in the form of his executive producer title for The Apprentice, obliterates virtually every common sense standard that exists for avoiding conflicts of interest and creates an impossible situation for the network’s reporters?

The parent company for NBC News, one of the largest news organizations in America, is going to maintain its business relationship with the president of the United States; the same Donald Trump whom NBC announced last year didn’t reflect the company’s “core values,” which was why NBC publicly terminated its business relationship with him.

But now after winning the White House, it turns out Trump is going to stay on as executive producer for the latest incarnation of The Apprentice reality show, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. And all of this we’re learning just days after Trump made a big public show about how he was going to remove himself from his business conflicts.

We’re obviously through the looking glass with this Trump-NBC deal. Yet lots of Beltway pundits, the type who obsessed over the appearance of conflicts for Hillary Clinton during the campaign, now shrug their shoulders and suggest Trump maintaining a lucrative business association with a news and entertainment giant is no big deal.

Unfortunately, NBC News is no stranger to ethical entanglements when it comes to Trump and the larger NBC family. In October, NBC News was caught flat footed on one of the biggest scoops of the election season when The Washington Post revealed live-microphone comments Trump had made during an Access Hollywood taping about grabbing women by the “pussy,” because when you’re a “star” you “can do anything.”

Access Hollywood airs on NBC and executives at NBC News were told about the tape days before the Post scoop.

As CNN reported:

Thanks to a series of decisions that can be described as at least curious, NBC News missed out on gaining credit for the scoop of the campaign, an October surprise to put all others that have come before it to shame.

And it has left NBC News answering questions about its hyper-cautious reaction to the tape, and pondering if it can rehabilitate the image of its recent high-profile anchor hire, Billy Bush.

Once the disturbing tape recordings were found, NBC reportedly sat on the blockbuster story figuring out how to proceed. (By contrast, the Post published its story just hours after learning about the tapes.) But today, with Trump having an ongoing financial relationship with NBC, we’re supposed to believe there won’t be anymore potential entanglements? That’s really not believable.

Meanwhile, recognize that over the years, NBC News treated Trump very kindly while his show was a tent pole on NBC’s entertainment lineup.

Earlier this year during the Republican primary season, when the conservative Media Research Center was upset with how much television airtime Trump was getting compared to the other GOP candidates, the group examined NBC News’ often-cozy relationship with Trump between 2004-2015, while he was a regular presence on NBC’s primetime lineup:

NBC has spent more than a decade building his brand as a successful businessman of almost mythic proportion. The network’s coverage of Trump was overwhelmingly and consistently positive. MRC Business found only 15 stories (out of 335) on Trump’s business failures, and 320 stories promoting him as a businessman, his businesses, and his shows. The vast majority of stories were about the network’s show The Apprentice, which featured Trump … NBC News’s Today served as a de facto PR machine for The Apprentice and its star.

It’s impossible to suggest those conflicts for NBC will soon evaporate when Trump’s sworn into office. In fact, they’ll only multiply.

For instance, The Apprentice has been leaking viewers for years. If the show continues to lag next year, who at NBC is going to be responsible for telling President Trump that his television show has been canceled and his weekly five-figure checks are going to dry up? What if the enraged executive producer (i.e. the president of the United States) then goes on a Twitter tirade and urges his millions of followers to stop watching NBC programs, or he starts an advertising boycott against the network?

Conversely, what if the new Apprentice turns into a ratings behemoth? Will NBC News think twice about airing a blockbuster scandal report about Trump corruption, for instance, knowing it could damage a key NBC primetime asset?

And remember how Trump picked that weird public fight with U.S. manufacturing giant Boeing last week? What if the next target of Trump’s free market wrath decides it needs to mend fences with the White House and buys millions of dollars worth of product placement on The Apprentice; a cut of which could end up in Trump’s pocket?

This is just nuts. Trump’s looming business conflicts are out of control. The fact that a media company with a huge news division is part of the problem just makes it all the more distressing.

Meanwhile, a key point is that this is just the latest in the media’s rampant normalization of Trump’s wildly abnormal behavior. Every modern-day president before Trump, and every modern-day nominee before him, pledged to make sure not only wouldn’t there be any conflicts of interest surrounding their presidencies, but there wouldn’t even any appearances of conflicts; of cashing in on the Oval Office. (Cue Richard Nixon: “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.”)

Now Trump does the opposite by openly flaunting obvious conflicts and the D.C. press largely shrugs its shoulders. (Exceptions were appreciated.) Does the controversy surrounding Trump’s Apprentice payday constitute the pressing issue facing the president-elect’s transition? It does not. (Not when he’s tapping a climate denier to run the EPA, among other alarming moves.) But it highlights the disturbing pattern of the press routinely explaining away Trump’s unparalleled behavior.

I mean c’mon. When President Obama published a children’s book in 2010 as president, he donated all the earnings to charity. It would have been political suicide for him to even think about pocketing the profits. And it also would’ve been the unethical thing do.

But Trump thumbs his nose at all of that and lots of journalists just shrug while NBC stays mum? This is just the press needlessly normalizing radical Republican behavior.



  1. dbtheonly December 16, 2016

    At least some of this the the obvious result of electing TV Personality as President. Ronald Reagan’s TV days were long past when he was elected, but I don’t recall that his movies were off-limits while he was President. I seem to recall seeing “Bedtime for Bonzo” while Reagan was in office.

    Another, and perhaps the more important part, is that the presumptive President is a man who has never recognized limits on himself. His expenditures, language, and behavior have no limits or restrictions. I doubt he even sees the potential for conflict and if he does, I doubt that it concerns him at all.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker December 16, 2016

      Trump has already been involved in several major international conflicts of interest that have jeopardized national security. Tillerson to start with. Tillerson is a notorious Exxon Mobil business mogul who has direct links to Putin. That some right wingers can ignore the 2 journalists Putin had killed for daring to oppose his policies is behind the pale of sanity.

      1. jmprint December 16, 2016

        And like Trump they both have gone against their own governments request, Tillerson with Russia and Trump with Cuba embargo. Can’t call this a$$holes patriots, they do not love their country more then money.

      2. dbtheonly December 16, 2016

        I’m not nearly as concerned about Tillerson as you and the others are. I don’t see that doing business with someone requires you to like or trust them. In my work I do deals every day with people I don’t like or trust. It’s just business. If I can work out someway to get a win out of the deal, I’ll do it. And if I had an “Order of Friendship” for people who make me a lot of money, I’d use it too, regardless of how much I liked the guy.

        Now Perry at Energy, DeVol at Education, and whatisname at EPA. There I’m worried.

        1. J, Dial December 20, 2016

          I get it. And yes, I agree. Compared to the others he’s the least of my worries. Still, after reading an in-depth, well-researched article in Texas Monthly several years ago highlighting Cheney’s continued Middle East holdings several months into GW Bush’s first term, I believe he bears watching closely.

          1. dbtheonly December 20, 2016

            None of these guys would be my choice for any office of trust.

            Tillerson’s under the Ethics Code, I believe. He may do a reasonable job. He’s not a toady or suck up like many others.

    2. dpaano December 16, 2016

      Nothing concerns Trump…..he sees himself as the new “Emperor” of this country and not a president with laws to follow or rules to deal with! Much like the CEO that he’s been for much of his life, he thinks he just has to snap his fingers and things get done. Unfortunately, he doesn’t OWN this country, and he can’t just SNAP his fingers to make things happen. The most we can hope for is that our Congress will grow balls and keep him on a short leash when he goes bonkers!

      1. jmprint December 16, 2016

        It’s fortunate that he doesn’t own this country, but give when a couple of months, he will have made enough money to buy more politicians, that’s the unfortunate thing.

        1. plc97477 December 19, 2016

          He doesn’t need a lot of money. To a large extent pols are pretty cheap.

        2. J, Dial December 20, 2016

          Right. When people began to tell me Trump was so rich he couldn’t be bought, I replied “maybe, but who and what can HE buy.?”

  2. yabbed December 16, 2016

    Trump has led the way to everything being about money now. Media has been corrupted from reporting the truth to cashing in on the fraud.

    1. dpaano December 16, 2016

      Which is kind of interesting considering that he trashes the journalists and the media every chance that he gets! You’d think they’d be wise to him now and start reporting the truth instead of all the other BS that comes down the pipeline!

  3. jmprint December 16, 2016

    Boycott NBC who needs them.

    1. idamag December 16, 2016

      I am. All I can trust now is PBS, Newsweek Magazine, Time Magazine and the local paper. I will not be insulted by what is posing as news on Cable or some of those once honest television stations.

      1. dpaano December 16, 2016

        You can also read The Week magazine….it’s an excellent forum in that it gives both sides of the story and actually lets the reader decide what is good and what is not. I get it weekly and read it from cover to cover….very insightful! You get the good with the bad and YOU make the decision which to believe.
        As for Newsweek and Time, I don’t trust them either…..anyone that puts Trump’s picture on the front as “Man of the Year” is questionable in my book!

        1. idamag December 16, 2016

          I was going to subscribe to the Week, Then I noticed the company was located in Florida and I didn’t think anything good could come out of Florida.

          1. dpaano December 16, 2016

            Actually, this is ONE of the good things coming out of Florida. It’s the MOST bi-partisan magazine that I’ve read. As I said, it gives BOTH sides of a question or a subject and lets the reader make their decision without pushing them one way or the other. I’ve been reading it for many years now, and I’ve always enjoyed it. I like hearing both sides of the story and being able to make my own decision based on my own intellect. I think you’ll enjoy it….try it for a year (I get NOTHING back from The Week for recommending it, just in case you were wondering). I just like the magazine and recommend it to people like most of us on this site.
            It includes World News, State News, Local News, etc. and covers quite a few of the topics that we discuss daily here.

        2. jmprint December 16, 2016

          I have to admit, that I will watch Rachel and Lawrence. But nothing else NBC has to offer, and I will be posting and promoting boycotting. They are guilty by association in making the presidency a carnival tent.

        3. jmprint December 16, 2016


      2. kep December 19, 2016

        Your best bet for reliable news is FOX

        1. J, Dial December 20, 2016

          Even the Fox talking heads themselves don’t know the difference between news and opinion shows. How could those who watch them. And listen to who they quote as sources for some of their “news” — like-minded people with partisan affiliation. At least when CNN has a panel discussion they identify the participant and his or her connections to relevant organizations.

          1. kep December 20, 2016

            CNN is just another liberal propaganda outlet

  4. PatrickHenry December 16, 2016

    NBC as well as CNN, have long been known to be biased in News reporting. Their ratings have dropped rapidly when Americans in Large numbers have finally seen just how corrupt they are. They are the Fake News. Now they are worried about money lost from low viewership. But these networks certainly are Opposed to Trump. It is the National Memo and their supporters that are the “fringe” of American Society, they can’t accept the way it really is!

    1. kep December 16, 2016

      Isn’t it scary the way these liberals believe and parrot EVERYTHING that the regime tells them? I can’t grasp that there are so many really stupid liberal commies in our country, although, I think most are not Americans.

      1. I Am Helpy December 16, 2016

        You are a birther. You don’t get to accuse other people of being credulous.

        1. kep December 16, 2016

          Perhaps IF the Emperor was indead “transparent ” there would be no questions? Barry Sotorro seems to be the name he used to come to America, under an Indonesian passport. All his records are sealed. His entire life seems to have been fabricated, and cloaked in secrecy. Anyone that does not question this is a fool, just like you.

          1. I Am Helpy December 16, 2016

            See previous post.

          2. The lucky one December 17, 2016

            “His entire life seems to have been fabricated” that statement applies pretty well to Trump, or maybe just grossly exaggerated.

      2. I Am Helpy December 16, 2016

        And, again, it’s weird that you keep calling people communists while pandering to the one man on Earth who wants to bring back the USSR.

        1. idamag December 18, 2016

          Right out of the nazi playbook, calling people communists.

          1. kep December 19, 2016

            Right out of the liberal/communist playbook. Divert attention to something else while all the time working from within.

      3. J, Dial December 16, 2016

        Trump is putting together nothing more nor nothing less than an oligarchy. And for God’s sake, people, READ your news. You can pick your favorite news outlet — the networks, CNN, Fox — but you will never understand government with at least reading a major daily newspaper — front page with news, not opinion, as well as business section. Further news magazines are almost a critical resource in even being able to vote responsibly, let alone debate with any degree of knowledge the ups and downs, ins, outs of governance. Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report. Yes, they use a lot of news analysis, much like the late and beloved Gwen Ifill’s Washington Week in Review. But you will find they use actual resources and attributions. Do this for yourselves — and for America.

        1. kep December 18, 2016

          Hard to find an actual news outlet, considering that most have become propaganda outlets for the liberals. The only news outlet now that seems reliable at all is Fox, and it certainly leans right, which in this day and age, is not a bad thing.

        2. plc97477 December 19, 2016

          ^ 100+

      4. The lucky one December 17, 2016

        Which group of really stupid Americans do you identify with?

    2. jmprint December 16, 2016

      Why should we settle for allowing Putin to win?

      1. PatrickHenry December 16, 2016

        “Pssst, Comrade Obama, I will relay your message to Vladimir how after the election, you will be more flexible.”

        1. jmprint December 16, 2016

          “Pssst, Hey Russian lover, what is your motive.

          1. PatrickHenry December 18, 2016

            “Pssst”, Conservatives are America & American loving people, it’s you Liberals that are anti-American, & many also Anti-White. A basket of hateful, intolerants. Why?

          2. jmprint December 19, 2016

            If you were to do a little research, you would find out that most of those conservatives americans you speak of are first and second generation Americans such as pussie grabbing Trump and Lady Tramp. They are from other countries and didn’t partake in making America what it is, they just love the white supremacy like you. Unlike you, we are not anti people for their color of skin, we are anti pretends as you. You pretend to think you are better, but the Lord knows we are ALL equal, so psst, your just an a$$hole, and soon you will see.

          3. PatrickHenry December 19, 2016

            Psssst, Electoral College voted, Trump wins AGAIN! Now we get to celebrate all over AGAIN. Damn, I’m still recovering from Nov. 8th. LMAO! ! ! ! ! Deal with it cupcake.

          4. jmprint December 20, 2016

            Of course we have to deal with, what other choice do we have while we see our country go down the tubes. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. Now I just sit back and watch it happen. Prediction were made in the past about the future and now I understand how it happens. Fracking is going to destroy Texas towns. Within a decade you will see ghost town,s yes there will be money made buy those that don’t live in Texas, but who cares, the right wing sure don’t. Greedy bastards all of you.

          5. PatrickHenry December 20, 2016

            Think it is the Clintons that are greedy with their Pay for Play & Foundation. You have to think for yourself, not fall for the blame the wealthy propaganda, which pumps more into the Democrat-Socialist party than the GOP.

          6. jmprint December 21, 2016

            That’s bullcrap, the small business is the heart of the USA, without them the large corporation wouldn’t exist. You don’t think, do you not see that Trump and his family are already playing for pay. Don’t feed me your crap, I’m not stupid like you. I see beyond the intentions set. Our taxes pay for the red states. GOP doesn’t know how to govern, every time they get their hand on a budget they fck it up and WE have to fix it. So go blow your horn where the gullible people can eat up your hogwash. You are an idiot for even thinking that statement has any merit.

  5. Eleanore Whitaker December 16, 2016

    You know when people are more than a little GUILTY, they are desperate to distance themselve from their guilt any way they can. This is the basic premise of Trump supporters. What they want is to appear less guilty for foisting a ruthless, tyrany tycoon on this government. Trump is a business tycoon who has done what not even Madoff could have pulled off…the biggest business deal in his business history and all he had to do was run for president. The cost to him? As he said in his 2nd debate, “I donated $100 million to my campaign.” Sure he did. That $100 million came from him NOT paying employees and contractors he owes big bucks to.

    But, like every Trump deal, he already figured out all he had to do to pay Russia the billions he owes them was to run for government, hand over the entire US to Putin and he would be Russian debt free.

    Trump is as slick as a baby’s bottom. But he forgets one thing, He cannot take the oath of office unless he separates his BUSINESS from his role as president. This is not like some some potatoes business owner. We are talking about Trump whose business interests lie in countries with whom the US has had strained relationships.

    He is violating the very law the Republicans put in place when JFK chose RFK for AG. Now you have Trump flouting every law claiming his presidency will be “best” and “different.” That implies that he plans to get away with what 44 other presidents were not allowed to. Resistance to a Trump presidency has little to do with Hillary Clinton and more to do with protecting and preserving the very foundation of our democracy: our voting rights. The right wingers want all of that glossed over.

    Once you figure out why, you see that if Americans have no voting rights, the right wing has the dictatorship they wanted. So they think. Already 6 states are threatenting secession if Trump dares to continue the nepotism and his lying and wheeling and dealing.

    He cannot force states to his will. That’s what our state AGs are for. To enforce our state laws. State laws that do not include federal laws are regulated exclusively by states. Not the federal government. That means at any time we can choose to withdraw all funding for Republican states.

    1. dpaano December 16, 2016

      Actually, a lot of that $100M that he said he spent came from the very same billionaires who are now being nominated for important chairmanships of government departments despite the fact that NONE of them are qualified for any of the jobs! I guess “pay to play” doesn’t count for Trump as it seemed to count for Hillary!! Hypocrisy at its best! Guess I won’t be watching NBC any longer….maybe if enough of us stop watching the channel, their overall ratings will drop! That’s the ONLY way we can show them that we aren’t thrilled with their duplicity!

  6. idamag December 16, 2016

    There is nothing honest or noble about the Republican Party and their media. The very fact that trump had a reality show on NBC made it a conflict of interest. NBC, you are not worthy of the name of journalism. You are just another sleezy media outlet.

  7. patsy.wong December 16, 2016

    I’ve earned $84 ,000 until now these days working over the internet moreover I’m a full time college student . I’m taking advantage of a web based business marketing opportunity I read about and in addition I’ve earned such type of great money . It is actually undoubtedly simple to use not to mention I am just too thankful that I found out about it . The capability with this is never ending . Here’s everything that I do>>> http://www.facebook.com/Canada

  8. J, Dial December 16, 2016

    How could anyone have not realized that Chuck Todd invited Trump on Meet the Press almost every week during the first two – three months of primary? What is called a news “peg” in journalism, generally that Trump had said something outrageous, was Todd’s reason for yet another interview with Trump. I doubt that Todd is a Trump fan, but he gave in to sensationalism — and his “nose for news” is severely compromised. No matter his so-called commitment to give each Repub primary candidate his/her 15 minutes exposure to MTP audience, Trump would more often than not be in some segment, live.
    I am a retired reporter, but always a journalist, and there is simply no justification for Todd’s actions. Airtime is airtime — and Trump got the lion’s share, maybe more than all other candidates, Dem or Repub, combined. Shameful.

  9. The lucky one December 17, 2016

    “What if the enraged executive producer (i.e. the president of the United States) then goes on a Twitter tirade and urges his millions of followers to stop watching NBC programs”

    Too late, NBC has already lost me due to their willingness to participate in this blatant conflict of interest.

  10. idamag December 18, 2016

    Free press, honest journalism – things of the past. Democracy relies on an honest press and an honest press relies on Democracy. Are we seeing the end of democracy? Does the general populist know and care?

  11. PatrickHenry December 19, 2016

    Time for all of you Illegals, brainwashed Socialists & government dependent losers to find another Country, days of Law & Order are here. Jobs are coming, (IF you want them). Draining the swamp has begun.

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 4, 2017

      Yes, the swamp is being drained and you’re going down to the cesspool with all the other ninnyhammers like yourself. But we’ve a special job, just for you—cleaning out all the toilets in Wash. DC come February.

  12. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 4, 2017

    Trump’s in bed with everyone who is too unfortunate to be near him, or pinned down on a couch by a whale with a pompadour. Somebody needs to call the vice squad.


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