In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s highly rated, albeit poorly received, hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live,” several of his Republican rivals have approached NBC, seeking equal time to make their case to the American people.
Trump hosted “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 7, drawing protests from activists angered by his controversial rhetoric on immigration. The real estate mogul was one of very few active presidential candidates to ever host the show, and the first to do so while at the top of the polls. Now the the dust has settled on Trump’s appearance, some of his opponents are crying foul.
The campaigns of Govs. John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki have all already sent letters to NBCUniversal, MSNBC’s parent company, requesting the same airtime as Trump. The candidates’ letters reference the Communication Act of 1934, which requires broadcast networks to comparable time (roughly 12 minutes) to opposing candidates. Kasich’s letterpoints out that “SNL” is not exempt because it is not a “bona fide” newscast, interview, documentary or an example on on-the-scene news coverage. And a representative of the Pataki campaign said, “It’s the law, of course [the governor] expects it to be followed.”
MSNBC has reached out to a number of the other campaigns about whether they plan to follow suit but has not heard back at this time.
The Carson campaign confirmed to MSNBC that they will not be seeking NBC airtime, and the candidate himself has said that hosting “SNL” is not something he’d be willing to do. “I think the presidency of the United States is a very serious thing,” Carson told reporters last month. “I don’t even want to begin to put it in the lightness of comedy.” On the other hand, Sen. Ted Cruz has said he’d be “thrilled” to do it.
Trump, who had hosted “SNL” once before in 2004, did not appear much during the episode he hosted. He did however, star in a sketch which envisioned a future White House where he was Commander-in-Chief and the country was overwhelmed with peace and tranquility. He also was the center of a sketch poking fun at his penchant for insulting tweets, as well as a parody of rapper Drake’s popular “Holine Bling” music video. Prior to his appearance on the show, Trump claimed the show’s producers had begged him to appear, and that he had nixed some of the more “risque” comedy sketches that writers pitched to him.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has also appeared on the legendary sketch comedy show this season, in a cameo role as a bartender named Val opposite cast-member Kate McKinnon playing an over-the-top version of her.
Ever since “Saturday Night Live” debuted 40 years ago, it has featured many political figures making good-natured fun of themselves and their opponents. And while, the Federal Communication Commission’s rules on equal time have affected the airing of Arnold Schwarzenegger films and Ronald Reagan movies, too – “SNL” has routinely emerged unscathed in this regard.