NBC’s Unacceptable Conflict Of Interest


Excerpt from: CREDO Action

You cannot make this up. When “Celebrity Apprentice” returns to NBC in 2017, Donald Trump will still be executive producer of the show.

This is an unprecedented moment, where one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, Comcast/NBCUniversal, for all intents and purposes, will have a contractual arrangement with the president of the United States. It creates a clear conflict of interest that undermines the credibility of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC and makes it impossible to trust that any reporting on Trump has not been impacted by this business entanglement.

NBC has a Trump problem that will only get worse once he is president. To maintain any credibility as a news organization, the network needs to cut its ties now.

A little over a year ago, NBC came under intense criticism for inviting Trump to host “Saturday Night Live,” a move that not only legitimized Trump’s hate, but provided him with a free national platform to bolster and sanitize his image. More recently, industry insiders were shocked that NBC News failed to report first on the “Access Hollywood” tapes that showed Trump bragging about grabbing women’s genitals, though they were in the network’s possession for four days before the Washington Post broke the story.1

While other networks have critically covered the news that Trump is staying on as executive producer of “Celebrity Apprentice,” NBC, MSNBC and CNBC have barely touched the story. When they have, it has been mainly to call out Trump for his conflict of interest, but not hold the network to the same standard.2 It already seems that the news division is being compromised by NBC’s deep ties to Trump and its financial ties to his brand.

Compromised journalism is not the only concern if Trump stays on as executive producer of “Celebrity Apprentice.” CNN has reported that past product placement arrangements for “The Apprentice” brought millions of additional dollars to the show, and to Trump.3 Companies trying to curry favor with the president or who have business in front of his administration could enter into deals with “Celebrity Apprentice” that could put money directly into the president’s pocket, especially considering he won’t be fully divesting himself from his company. According to CNN, “that could include brands owned by foreign companies; private equity firms, which have done deals with the show before; or defense contractors that also produce consumer goods.”4

In 2015, NBCUniversal cut ties with Trump’s Miss Universe pageant after he called Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists when announcing his candidacy for president. Their statement read in part: “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”5

At the time, NBC hedged its bets by saying it would continue its relationship with Mark Burnett’s United Artists Media Group, which licensed “The Apprentice.” Unless it insists that Trump not remain an executive producer of one of its network’s flagship shows, NBC will be showing that it’s not only comfortable with a clear conflict around its news outlets, but with a clear conflict of its own professed values. It’s time for them to cut ties with Trump now.

  • Tell NBC: End your business relationship with Donald Trump. Go to the link below to sign the petition:

Thanks for taking action today,

Heidi Hess, Senior Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

References:

Bill Carter, “NBC caught in dilemma over its own Donald Trump, Billy Bush tape,” CNN Money, Oct. 10, 2016.
Katie Sullivan, “NBC News Is Struggling To Report On Its Own Trump Problem, Media Matters, Dec. 12, 2016.
Dylan Byers, “Donald Trump’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ deal may include money from brands,” CNN Money, Dec. 9, 2016.
ibid.
Jamie Etkin, “NBC Has Ended Its Relationship With Donald Trump,” BuzzFeed, June 29, 2015.

© 2016 CREDO. All rights reserved.

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