"Saturday Night Live" and its network, NBC, seemingly can't decide what to do with Donald Trump. One thing, however, is for sure: choosing at once to sever business ties with the businessman because of his racist comments last year followed by having him host the weekend sketch comedy show less than six months later drew pause.
But with the latest bit from the show poking fun at the race-related furor Trump has kicked up as the leading Republican presidential nominee, something's got to give, and the show may be trying to take a stand.
The minute-long sketch, "Voters for Trump Ad," stars (white) castmembers Taran Killam, Vanessa Bayer, Bobby Moynihan, Aidy Bryant, Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney as Americans who have committed to voting for Trump. The ad shows each of them in their daily lives as they detail why Trump is getting their vote.
One guy believes Trump will "take the economy from here to here," motioning a lower then higher level with his hands. When his arm raises to the higher level, revealed is a red armband with a swastika on it.
Another says she's voting for Trump because "he's not some cautious politician."
"He says what I'm thinking," she said, while showing that the item she's been ironing all along is a hooded KKK uniform.
The sketch — with its visuals that also include a lumberjack adding wood to a burning cross while the Klan tarries nearby — is perhaps the most biting critique Trump and the bigoted perspective of some of his supporters has received from the show.
But, of course, it's tough to hold true to your subversive reputation when the bosses upstairs say Trump is perfect host material.
Trump hosted "SNL" only months after the network ended all relationships with him following his racist remarks.
"At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values," said parent company NBCUniversal in a statement late June, explaining its decision to pull out of a broadcast of the Miss Universe pageant, which was then co-owned by the Trump organization.
"Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump," the statement said, adding that Trump would also no longer would be a part of "The Apprentice" franchise that made him a reality star.
But when pegged for what appeared to be a double standard — being anti-Trump's comments but wanting him to host "SNL" for ratings — the network defended itself.
"At the end of the day, he was on the show for 11 minutes and ... it wasn't like the Earth fell off its axis," said NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt to television writers during NBC's session at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in January.
"It was a highly rated show, and that's always a good thing," Greenblatt said. "And he is the front-runner for the Republican nomination."
"He's good fodder for comedy as well," interjected Paul Telegdy, NBC's president of alternative and late-night programming.
Maybe the "Voters for Trump Ad" signals yet another shift in the show and network's position with Trump. Perhaps this time a preoccupation with ratings is taking a back seat to needed critique of the candidate's posturing.
Times reporter Meg James contributed to this report.
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