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Samantha Bee says Jimmy Fallon and NBC 'tacitly condoned race-baiting demagogue' Donald Trump

Samantha Bee says Jimmy Fallon and NBC 'tacitly condoned race-baiting demagogue' Donald Trump
"Full Frontal" host Samantha Bee. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Conventional wisdom says that we've entered a kinder, gentler era in the late-night wars, when rival hosts are more likely to show up on each other's couches than say bad things about each other publicly.

But the gloves came off Monday night on "Full Frontal," when host Samantha Bee harshly criticized Jimmy Fallon and his network, NBC, for supposedly enabling Republican nominee Donald Trump.

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The segment began as an attempt by Bee to understand Hillary Clinton's declining poll numbers, despite evidence that, according to at least one survey, most Americans also think Trump is a bigot.

"Why do so many Americans think playing footsie with fringe hate groups isn't a disqualifier from polite society, much less the presidency?" she wondered. "Maybe because that's the message they get from entertainment giants like NBC, which gladly nurtured Trump's celebrity through all the years he was running around saying this."

Bee then cut to footage of Trump in 2011 saying he was "proud" to have questioned President Obama's birthplace. (Trump began pressing the birther issue in spring 2011, and finally acknowledged that Obama was born in Hawaii last week. He hosted "The Celebrity Apprentice" until last year.)

Bee said that by keeping Trump on the air during his birther days, NBC "tacitly condoned a race-baiting demagogue." And by inviting him to host "Saturday Night Live" after officially severing business ties with the former reality star, the network was sending a message that "ratings matter more than brown people."

NBC declined to comment.

"Sure, he's making life palpably dangerous for Muslims and immigrants, but hey, he's good entertainment," she said.

Given Trump's history, Bee suggested that NBC was wrong to "invite him up into your house to play with your adorable children," an apparent reference to Fallon, who was widely criticized for his hair-mussing interview with the Republican last week.

"Awww, Trump can be a total sweetheart with someone who has no reason to be terrified of him," Bee said, noting that there were "no cutaway shots to the Roots. I wonder why."

In a similarly non-confrontational appearance Monday on "Tonight," Clinton presented Fallon with a bag of softballs.

Bee concluded that many network executives "can ignore how dangerous Trump is" because they are not minorities or women.

"They're not racist. They just don't mind if other people are, which is just as bad," she said.

Bee's segment aired a day after the Emmy Awards, at which host Kimmel singled out reality TV producer Mark Burnett as "the man responsible" for Trump's political rise.

Follow me @MeredithBlake

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