SAN DIEGO – And then the giant peacock looked Donald Trump square in the eye and said the magic words: “You’re fired!”
NBCUniversal has wisely decided to protect its brand and cut all ties to the businessman and presidential candidate. In addition to no longer carrying the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, NBC also canned Trump as host of the reality show, “The Apprentice.”
Trump had already said he was giving up the show to run for president. But I bet he didn’t plan on NBC saying goodbye like this: “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump. . At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.”
The Donald fired back at the network in a way that was neither respectful nor dignified. He told CNN that he might sue NBC and complained in a statement that “NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct.” Then he stuck the knife in. He pointed out that NBC will stand by disgraced former evening news anchor Brian Williams, who is being brought back to the network, “but won’t stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be.”
Not to worry. Trump may be going from a reality show to a soap opera. He is embroiled in something of an ongoing spicy telenovela with Univision, which also severed ties after Trump claimed that Mexicans who migrate to the United States have “lots of problems” and are essentially thugs, rapists and drug dealers. Trump threatened to sue Univision for breach of contract, banned the network’s employees from his Miami golf courses and published a photograph of a letter containing Univision anchor Jorge Ramos’ personal cellphone number after Ramos wrote him to get an interview.
Does the political novice not understand that he is supposed to be spending his time running against other Republican candidates and not fighting a television network?
Some Republicans like Trump because they think that with all his wealth, the special interests in Washington can’t get to him. And yet Univision – and now NBC – have already gotten under his skin.
How did Trump’s personal war against Univision and Mexico even begin?
Maybe Univision is a proxy for our neighbor to the south. His comments about Mexico were full of hate and hostility. Maybe he’s channeling some of that vitriol toward the behemoth television network that many Mexicans watch.
Or maybe this is about settling an old score. According to media reports, there is a legal dispute between Trump and two Mexican businessmen who the billionaire claims owe him as much as $12 million for agreeing to host the 2007 Miss Universe Pageant and then backing out of the deal. Is Trump now transferring his anger and frustration over a business deal that went sour to the entire country of Mexico? There is no way of knowing.
In any case, the slugfest between Trump and Univision is surreal. After all, let’s remember, this whole thing started because Trump sees Mexican migrants as inferior – a view that, judging from its own regular programming, the nation’s largest Spanish-speaking television network seems to tolerate and perpetuate.
Have you ever seen one of those popular Mexican soap operas that make Univision so much money? Or taken a good look at the anchors and reporters who deliver the news on the network? Generally speaking, you won’t find a more light-skinned and fair-haired bunch. These are hardly the sort of folks who get doors slammed in their faces in Mexico and can’t wait to migrate to the United States. These are the kind of people who are content to stay in Mexico. The network stars might give lip service to supporting migrants, but I don’t see how they could possibly relate to them.
It’s both ironic and sad that a network that made billions broadcasting throughout Latin America looks nothing like most of Latin America. Now Univision, in its war with Trump, emerges as the de-facto savior for Mexican immigrants. How did that happen?
Unlike Trump’s relationship with NBC, his telenovela with Univision is not likely to end soon. So both parties have plenty of time to get out and meet more Mexicans, confront their biases and broaden their world views.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.