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As protests grow, ‘SNL’ looks unlikely to dump Donald Trump as host

As protests grow, ‘SNL’ looks unlikely to dump Donald Trump as host

Protesters opposed to the appearance of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as guest host on this weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” rally in New York.on Nov. 4, 2015.

(Jason Szenes / EPA)

With little more than 48 hours to go until presidential candidate Donald Trump is slated to host “Saturday Night Live,” Latino advocacy groups continue to pressure NBC to cancel the appearance.

On Tuesday, a group of 67 Latino artists, academics and politicians released a strongly worded statement denouncing Trump for what they described as “hate speech” that appeals “to xenophobia, sexism and political intolerance.” The letter, signed by the likes of Oscar-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, actors Diego Luna and Demian Bichir and author Junot Diaz, also criticized Trump for his treatment of journalists Megyn Kelly and Jorge Ramos.

The outcry grew louder on Wednesday, when protesters from a coalition of advocacy groups gathered outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home of NBC’s operations in Manhattan and “Saturday Night Live’s” studios. The so-called “Dump Trump” rally included members of pro-immigration reform and Latino advocacy groups including the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, America’s Voice and the National Council on La Raza.

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The coalition also delivered a petition with over 500,000 signatures to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Stephen Burke and “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels urging cancellation of Trump’s appearance. 

NBC had no comment on the matter.

The protest has reached the halls of power in Washington, D.C., where the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has issued a “statement of opposition” to Trump’s appearance. 

Despite the intensifying pressure, however, a reversal by NBC and “SNL” at this late stage would be virtually unprecedented. NBC has already released promotional clips featuring Trump hamming it up with cast members Cecily Strong, Michael Che and Sasheer Zamata. In one clip, Trump refers to his rival for the GOP presidential nomination, Ben Carson, as a “complete and total loser." 

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For his part, Carson doesn’t seem too amused by Trump’s upcoming appearance. In an interview with Bloomberg the retired neurosurgeon implied that he considers the “SNL” gig inappropriate for a presidential candidate. 

“I think the presidency of the United States is a very serious thing,” he said. “I don’t even want to begin to put it in the lightness of comedy.”

Trump has been a lightning rod for controversy since making remarks about undocumented Mexican immigrants in the speech announcing his presidential campaign in June.

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” he said at the time. Trump has provoked further criticism with calls for the mass deportation of some 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally and to end to end birthright citizenship.

After Trump’s initial comments, NBC quickly moved to end its business relationship with the former host of "The Celebrity Apprentice,” announcing it would not air the Miss Universe or Miss USA pageants, which Trump owns. But Trump has since made numerous appearances on NBC programs, including “Today” and “Tonight.”

In media appearances this week, Trump has repeatedly stated what many suspect -- that he was invited to host “SNL” because he is a ratings magnet. 

“The reason they put me there is one very simple reason, it’s called ratings,” he told “Today” host Savannah Guthrie on Thursday. “I get good ratings. If I didn’t get ratings, they wouldn’t put me there.”

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And he made similar remarks on Wednesday to CNN’s Christopher Cuomo, who asked why NBC now seems to be burying the hatchet with Trump. "You’re never at war when you get great ratings with a network, OK?” he replied. “Nobody gets ratings like me.”

At this point, however, Trump could probably use some positive exposure: After leading the Republican pack all summer long, he is now neck and neck with Carson, according to multiple polling organizations.

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter.

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