NBC late Wednesday pulled a Ben Carson attack featured on the "Saturday Night Live" Donald Trump promos -- yes, unusual and also probably necessary in light of some of the heat Trump's Nov. 7 appearance on "SNL" is now drawing.
The promo clip, originally around two minutes and twenty seconds, and released online Wednesday, featured a quick clip of the GOP candidate saying, "Ben Carson is a total loser." The line drew attention, including the attention of Carson (who said he wouldn't watch the program anyway, expressing disappointment with the swipe.)
But the promo suddenly and unexpectedly went "private" late Wednesday -- meaning no one could access it publicly. It's live again now, and the Carson poke is gone.
In a story on the Trump appearance on "SNL" on "Today," the show confirmed that the reference had been dropped. Trump also spoke by phone to co-host Savannah Guthrie, saying he was honored to do "SNL," calling it an iconic brand like "60 Minutes," where he also appeared on the season premiere.
He didn't respond to Guthrie's question about Latino groups that protested outside 30 Rock Wednesday evening before delivering a box apparently full of 450,000 signatures, demanding that Trump's appearance be cancelled. Instead, he said there had never been any acrimony with NBC in the wake of comments made in June when announcing his candidacy. At the time, he called some Mexican illegal immigrants "rapists." The comment led NBC to sever ties with Trump, who later said at a Chicago press conference:“They will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won’t stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be.”
But on "Today's" Thursday edition, Trump insisted the breach with the network "wasn't acrimonious." "The [Celebrity]Apprentice" had been renewed, he said, but he decided he wanted to back out because he had become a candidate. "I just decided to do it, with equal time. Miss Universe [which NBC sold its stake in] was a problem, but I ended up buying their interest and selling it to WME [IMG-IMG; sold in September, terms not disclosed]. It worked out amazingly well for me, no problem whatsoever for me."
And ever the optimist -- and in this instance realist too -- Trump said the reason NBC wanted him on "SNL" is "I get a good rating. If I didn't get a good rating, they wouldn't put me there.”
Meanwhile, about the promos: Trump didn't address the Carson jab, nor did NBC. But there was little reason for it to be in the group in the first pace.
The string of promos -- poking fun at Trump's mastery of the braggadocious, the word "yuge," and (thankfully) not a single stale joke about the hair -- are funny. The Carson jab was sour -- and worse, opened NBC to an instant "equal opportunities" rebuttal by Carson, who may have even sought one.
The promos even make fun of the equal opportunity issue. In fact, the issue is a real one -- a minor one, but real nonetheless. Under provisions of Federal communications law, NBC stations in markets where Trump's GOP rivals have registered as candidates -- Iowa and new Hampshire, for the most part -- could get the same amount of time he gets on "SNL" if they ask for it within seven days.(Hillary Clinton's rivals were entitled to about three minutes, or equal to the time she had on "SNL" in early October.)
If he gets -- for example -- 30 minutes of on-air time, they can ask for that too. Problem is, they'd have to use that time on small stations in Iowa (or New Hampshire) late on a Saturday night. But there are many rivals and if they each sought that much time, there would be quite the logjam -- unless they negotiate to use their time in other markets at other times.