NBC Boss Bob Greenblatt on Donald Trump: ‘He’s One of the Most Important Political Figures of Our Time’

NBC Bob Greenblatt Donald Trump
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NBC famously cut ties with Donald Trump last year, following the presidential candidate’s controversial comments about immigrants, ending his “Apprentice” run and letting go of the Trump-produced Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.

“Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump. At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” the network’s statement read, at the time of Trump’s falling out. NBC will replace Trump with Arnold Schwarzenegger as host of  “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Since that statement was released, Trump has been very much back in business with NBC from hosting “Saturday Night Live” to having a guest spot on Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show.”

“If we were in the business of never having anyone guest on the network that had views that were different than our views, we would be out of business,” NBC Entertainment Chair Bob Greenblatt said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif.

Sitting next to Greenblatt on stage, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming, Paul Teledgy, said the network’s original statement still holds true. “Both statements are true. That doesn’t prevent you from booking someone on an entertainment show or a news show. Does that answer the Donald Trump question?” Telegdy sternly said to the room of press. “Because it’s clear to us and it’s clear to the people producing those shows.”

Greenblatt further explained that when NBC cut ties with Trump, they didn’t expect his political success. Now that he’s a viable candidate, as an entertainment and news broadcaster, NBC has a responsibility to bring on newsworthy guests and presidential candidates — especially during the election season when all other networks are doing the same.

“We had a couple businesses that we were doing with him — ‘Apprentice’ and the pageants — we got out of both of those businesses,” he said. “That was June or July when most of us thought he would be sort of waltzing into the background of the political arena, and lo and behold, he’s the frontrunner and the poll numbers are sort of astounding and he’s everywhere… every news show, morning show, night show, cable show… I think that reconciles quite easily with we’re not in business with him, but love it or not, he’s one of the most important political figures of our time and he’s on our shows.”

Asked if he had any regrets about Trump hosting “SNL,” given the backlash, Greenblatt said, “He was on the show and the Earth didn’t fall on its axis. It was a highly rated show and that’s always a good thing. At the end of the day, he’s the frontrunner of the Republican nomination.” Telegdy chimed in: “And he’s good fodder for comedy, as well.”

Following the executive session, Telegdy spoke to a smaller group of reporters, including Variety, when he was asked if he understood the barrage of press questions during the heated conversation on stage. “I do, and I’m sorry if I appeared defensive,” Telegdy said.

“We severed our business ties with Donald Trump, which was that we had a joint venture with the Miss Universe Organization,” Telegdy said, noting that “it was done at a speed and an efficiency that is hard to do in the corporate world when you’ve been in business with someone for that long. As far as his hosting on ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ which made him an employee of this company… that relationship finished. Does that mean Donald Trump is banned from NBC Universal? No — not when he’s a public figure who is running for president and by polls that [show] he can be considered the presidential frontrunner. Do you suggest that a company that operates the largest news division of any of these companies turns a blind eye and ignores that?”

On a lighter note, regarding the question of Schwarzenegger’s catchphrase on “Celeb Apprentice,” Telegdy admits he has picked something out to follow up Trump’s “You’re fired!” However, NBC is staying mum on those words until the show premieres — which Greenblatt said could be as early as this fall.

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  1. wodiej says:

    Give me a BREAK. NBC was begging Trump to do The Apprentice another season.

  2. Nicholas P. Schiavone says:

    Is NBC Entertainment Chair Bob Greenblatt
    a political or social scientist qualified to make such judgments? Of course, not! He’s just another TV Management hack who thinks he knows what’s best for the American Audience & COMCAST. Looking at NBC’s ratings, he seems to know neither one. No wonder the Peacock Network has lost all its magnificent feathers.
    NBC & Trump continue to be perfect together,
    if you like disturbing degenerate diversions.

  3. cadavra says:

    Question for Mr. Greenblatt: When Trump pays you to put him on the air, does he use a credit card or simply leave the cash on the dresser?

  4. gkn says:

    I vote that we put Mr. Greenblatt on an island with all of Trump’s supporters, and Trump as president. It’s thanks to spineless men of his “caliber” who worship only money that we may become the next Nazi Germany. I hope he finds place in history, if so.

  5. Sean Price says:

    My 3 guesses on Schwarzenegger’s catchphrase on “Celeb Apprentice”:
    “You WON’T be back”
    “You are terminated”
    “Hasta la vista, baby”

  6. David Sommers says:

    Lost touch? With a Nazi and publicity seeking racist not really very smart person – glad to. He was kicked out of Kew Forest School as a kid. Still the same bully. He will NEVER be President. Never. Ever. Never.

  7. Jane Genzler says:

    I see by some of the comments that there are a few still not willing to listen to the American voters. To them, have you ever considered you have lost touch?

  8. Michael anthony says:

    NBC likes the racist because he delivers ratings. If Hitler delivered ratings, like “Live from Treblinka”, NBC would be covering it and offering excuses why.

  9. Sonny Skyhawk says:

    So much for NBC’s cornerstone’s being RESPECT & INTEGRITY, more like their foundation being ” Mo Money, Ratings and a FORKED TONGUE. THATS NOT SURPRISING.

  10. witzshared says:

    NBC is just cashing in on Trump big time. They know his appearances will bring ratings. They treat him with kit gloves on the Today Show, in fact, Matt was tougher on Nikki Haley with his questions today then he ever has been with the Don. To me NBC is just an enabler of hatred and as long as the cash comes in, they’ll let him continue to rant on their air. I’m sure Bob would have made excuses for putting Hitler on air as well.

    • Jacques Strappe says:

      Spot on assessment. NBC isn’t alone though. It seems no one wants to really piss off Trump because he automatically goes into personal attack mode, name calling, Twitter tirades and just stops short of threats…and his polling numbers soar as a consequence. If Greenblatt were asked to comment on their former reality show host, he should have said something to the effect that Donald Trump is being Donald Trump and leave it at that for others to interpret.

  11. jsm1963 says:

    If Hitler were around today he’d probably be guest hosting SNL.

  12. jsm1963 says:

    For all the wrong reasons.

  13. David Sommers says:

    It’s comments like this and articles like this that give this loony tune air time. Better to ignore all of it. Forget the guy’s personality and all that and just acknowledge how incredibly unqualified he is. He could run for neurosurgeon too you know.

    • Elections in the USA are ALL about personality. That’s why Obama got elected. He didn’t have the skills to run a hot dog stand, but his amazing presence, speaking skills, and personality wooed everyone except all the black voters he already had. Same with Reagan. Reagan really appealed to everyone who wanted ‘the good old days’ from a soft point of view with a velvet hammer. Trump’s ignoring the soft touch but essentially they aren’t far apart in many ways though of course Trump is untested as a leader in politics; but not untested as a leader of business.

  14. Ted Faraone says:

    At the time of the separation from Trump, there was a huge PR backlash against his anti-Mexican statements. Let’s not forget that NBC owns Telemundo, a Spanish-language broadcaster. In any event, they had to take him off entertainment shows like “The Apprentice” due to the Equal Time rule. Please note that NBC stations had to offer time to opposing candidates for the Republican presidential nomination due to Trump’s Saturday Night Live appearance. Greenblat is correct to hedge his bets. If Trump wins the nomination and the election NBC News will need access to him. And Trump has a very long memory.

    • Chicago860 says:

      Lefties line NBC don’t think beyond the “next move” and certainly don’t consider unintended consequences. Now they’re finding out that many legal immigrants are supporting Trump’s position on illegals. In the words of the recently departed Wayne Rogers, “When you start a sentence with “illegal,” there’s no place to go from there.

    • Ted Faraone says:

      Sorry, Bob, I left out the second “T” in Greenblatt. -TF

  15. NBC is talking out of both sides of their mouth. If Trump is elected, a great deal of the reason why is the free NBC public relations bonuses for Trump via airtime fanning the flames of his notoriety. They are inadvertently affecting national politics whether they cop to it or not. And for whatever financial reasons they cite.

  16. I love the comment on here. Bob, is that you? That doesn’t sound like the Bob I know. I have a feeling he was under instruction. At least, I hope so.

  17. Arnie Tracey says:

    Say WHAT !?!

    What is this guy, NUTS !?!

    As nuts as Cosby (formerly of NBC) or Apatow (formerly of funny).

  18. Lisa says:

    NBC is last for a reason – they’re in a media bubble and inside that bubble they have their own heads shoved firmly where they can smell crap all day.

  19. Bill B. says:

    Lips meet butt.

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