Reelz Chief Executive Stan E. Hubbard said Sunday the cable network was "darn proud" to air the 2015 Miss USA pageant after NBC and Univision dropped the TV event over pageant co-owner Donald Trump's controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants.
Hubbard addressed the decision when he took the stage before the cable network's presentation at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills. He lauded the network's willingness to "make those tough divisions even in a politically charged atmosphere."
"We are darn proud of that," Hubbard told reporters.
Full coverage: Television Crtitics Association press tour 2015
The low-profile cable network, which is available in 70 million homes, picked up the July 12 event when it found itself without a TV home after Trump's inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants.
Trump made the remarks during his June 16 announcement of his run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. In lambasting U.S. policy in his campaign announcement, Trump said immigrants "are bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."
Hubbard reasoned that the contestants and host city should not be penalized for "reasons of political correctness."
"When Miss USA the television show was canceled, it was for reasons of political correctness," Hubbard said. "What we saw was a pageant with young women from across the country who made this their lives' ambition to be in the show. We saw a community in Baton Rouge that stood up to roll out the red carpet for this event; a television audience who'd been watching this for 54 years and not one of those people or communities had anything to do with what caused this, but they were going to be the fallout."
Hubbard later told a small group of reporters that the network "disavowed" the controversial statements made by Trump. The telecast ultimately brought in about 2.5 million total viewers — a coup for the network.
Trump, in the wake of the fallout, filed a $500-million lawsuit against Univision for dropping the pageant.