Many people don’t think there’s anything funny about Donald Trump hosting Saturday Night Live.
The controversy started almost immediately after it was announced two weeks ago that Trump would host the sketch comedy show on November 7, and is only growing louder as the date approaches through petitions by Hispanic organizations, the government and the public.
It started with a letter from the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, which is composed of 40 Hispanic organizations, to NBC on October 15, calling for the network to rescind his invitation to host. “Donald Trump has yet to apologize for his bigoted comments about Mexican immigrants,” the letter reads. “Allowing Trump to host SNL will legitimate and validate his anti-Latino comments… We are appalled that you would enable Trump’s hateful speech for nothing less than a ratings ploy and ask that you rescind the SNL invitation.”
Trump talked to CNN about the Latino groups’ efforts to boycott his appearance and seemed unfazed by the controversy. “I think they’ll have luck in driving up the ratings,” he said. “I know these groups, many of them are scam groups.”
According to Felix Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts and one of the co-signers of the letter, they have not received a response from NBC. Sanchez says some of the organizations involved in the letter are planning a “demonstration” in New York City on November 4 near 30 Rockefeller Center to further protest Trump’s gig.
Congress is getting involved, as well. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a 26-member group led by chairwoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA), put out a resolution November 2 officially denouncing the appearance. “Be it resolved that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls upon NBCUniversal, Broadway Video, and SNL Executive Producer Lorne Michaels to disinvite Mr. Trump from hosting Saturday Night Live because racism is not funny,” the resolution reads. “And be it further resolved, that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus urges NBCUniversal to stand by its earlier commitment to end its relationship with Mr. Trump because the values of “respect and dignity for all people” are more important than ratings and ad revenues.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), a member of the Caucus, had previously given two speeches on the floor and wrote to the presidents of Comcast and NBC Universal on October 20 denouncing the show. “Having Donald Trump as a guest on every news and entertainment program is one thing, but allowing him to host Saturday Night Live is another,” the Congressman wrote. “It is a level of endorsement that says to America that every hateful and racist thing Donald Trump has said since the moment he launched his campaign is acceptable and no big deal.”
Outside of government and official organizations, a grassroots movement also took hold to oust Trump from the hosting spot. A MoveOn.org petition telling Saturday Night Live to “dump Donald Trump” had received 141,795 signatures as of this writing, and one on Change.org had received 227,763. A social media campaign #RacismIsntFunny began trending as people took to Twitter to speak out against Trump hosting the show. Comedians John Leguizamo, Al Madrigal and Margaret Cho have all Tweeted their opposition to Trump’s appearance on the show.
NBC and the Trump campaign both declined to comment. NBCUniversal, which broadcasts Saturday Night Live, officially broke business ties with Trump in June, after the candidate said Mexico was sending rapists and criminals across the U.S. southern border.
“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,” the company said at the time, when it dropped two joint ventures with Trump, the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.
This would not be Trump’s first time hosting Saturday Night Live. He hosted the show in 2004 during the first season of his reality show The Apprentice.
During his campaign launch in June, Trump said Mexico was sending rapists and criminals across the southern border. He has had a fraught relationship with the Latino community ever since. He has also said he would build a wall along the southern border and force Mexico, or Mexicans living in the United States, to pay for it. He says he would round up and deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country, before allowing many of them to return.