By DENISE CLAY
When I was a kid and we first got cable, I would sometimes catch telenovelas on the Spanish-language network Univision as I flipped through the channels.
For those who don’t know what a telenovela is, it’s literally a book on television. Some of the acting is a bit over the top, and that leads to them looking like soap operas on steroids. But it’s kind of cool to see a book, literally, acted out. Some of the folks you see on television and in the movies here in the States, folks like Oscar-nominated actress Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara of the hit series “Modern Family” got their start there doing telenovelas.
Usually, watching a telenovela without a working command of the Spanish language is a pretty unsatisfying experience. You get lost pretty easily and find yourself saying “Huh?!” a lot…
Fortunately, thanks to a dispute between Univision and Donald Trump, a man whose entire existence screams over the top, America is getting a chance to see what an English-language telenovela might look like.
The Trump/Univision story is a story of what happens when a content provider with a history of putting folks in uncomfortable positions, a content distributor whose audience is made up of an ethnic group that is one of the fastest growing in the country, and the parent company that oversees them both find themselves at odds.
And if someone’s not careful, this dispute could lead to someone winding up on the outside looking in.
On June 25, Univision announced that it was ending its partnership with the Miss Universe organization due to some remarks that Trump made about Mexican immigrants during his June 16 news conference announcing his intention to get into the Republican presidential nomination minivan for 2016.
The part of Trump’s stream of consciousness that crossed a line with Univision went a little something like this…
“When Mexican sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume are good people.”
(Nice to know that some are good people, Donald. I was starting to get a little worried.)
It was the so-called “good people” that Univision cited in its statement telling Trump “You’re Fired!”
“At Univision, we see first-hand the work ethic, love for family, strong religious values and the important role Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans have had and will continue to have in building the future of our country,” according to the company’s statement.
Now because he’s Donald Trump, and he’s not a guy that’s used to people standing up to him, he’s reacted to Univision’s decision with all of the maturity of a 12-year-old whose Xbox was confiscated for bad grades.
After announcing that Univision had dumped him on Twitter, he went on Fox News and promptly doubled down on his remarks, saying that it was “common sense” that Mexico was sending its rapists and murderers to America.
Secondly, he announced that he was suing Univision for breach of contract for severing their relationship, claiming that the network was mad at him for “exposing” just how bad America’s trade deals with Mexico have been for the country.
Trump then sent Univision President and CEO Randy Falco a letter saying that the Trump National Doral resort in Miami–which just happens to be located next to Univision’s headquarters–is now off limits.
Finally, when Univision anchor Jorge Ramos wrote Trump asking for an interview to get his side of the story, The Donald responded to his request by putting the letter—and Ramos’s cell phone number—on his Instagram account.
Now what makes this interesting is that both Trump and Univision have something in common: Comcast/NBC. The company owns Univision and is the home of Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” or as I like to call it, “The Shenanigans of Donald Trump and His Cadre of Z-Listers.”
The company issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter distancing itsef from Trump’s comments…and everything else.
“Donald Trump’s opinions do not represent those of NBC,” the network said. “And we do not agree with his positions on a number of issues, including his recent comments on immigration.”
NBC has also said that in light of Trump’s decision to get into the GOP Presidential Mini-Van, it’s re-evaluating The Donald’s relationship with the network.
That’s what everyone needs to keep an eye on.
While NBC CEO Brian Roberts is probably somewhat used to The Donald making the lives of the company’s executives unnecessarily hard by saying something totally ignorant, Trump may have gone a little too far here.
You see, insulting Black folks, which Trump did the last time he ran for president, is one thing. But insulting an entire nation, specifically a nation that’s the native land of some of the people that make up one of the fastest-growing minority groups in this country, well, that can make life difficult for a media corporation that’s trying to stay financially solvent and keep its stockholders happy.
And the Latino community knows this. Actors Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian DeLa Fuente, the Spanish-language co-hosts of the Miss USA Pageant have both announced their intentions to bail on The Donald. There’s also a Change.org petition asking NBC to cancel the Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants and “Celebrity Apprentice” that’s got close to 200,000 signatures on it.
Once NBC gets that petition, the company will listen to those voices. Count on it.
And Trump may wind up learning that while you can say anything you want to under the First Amendment, no one has to continue to bankroll your fruit stand in the Marketplace of Ideas if you keep selling rotten apples…
…which, depending on the story, might be getting thrown at him if this were an actual telenovela…
UPDATE: The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has issued a statement:
Our mission at NAHJ embodies grace and dignity. We work toward equal representation in newsrooms so the American people are not blind to the stories of 54 million American Latinos. We work toward fair and accurate representation of Latinos in the media who deserve the respect and dignity entitled to all Americans.
So when a candidate for President of the United States unfairly and incorrectly characterizes Mexicans and by close association, Mexican-Americans, it’s not only wrong, it’s un-American. NAHJ commends Univision’s decision to cut ties with Donald Trump’s Miss America and Miss Universe pageants and entities connected to Mr. Trump because of his remarks. See the complete statement here.
UPDATE: NBC Universal has just issued a statement announcing that it too has severed ties with The Trump Organization.
“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. To that end, the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which are part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump, will no longer air on NBC. In addition, as Mr. Trump has already indicated, he will not be participating in The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC. Celebrity Apprentice is licensed from Mark Burnett’s United Artists Media Group and that relationship will continue.”