NBC knows people were pissed about Donald Trump hosting Saturday Night Live.
NBC doesn't care.
On Wednesday, during the NBC executive panel at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, there was talk of new comedies, live musicals (the network is hoping to follow up The Wiz with Hairspray), and, inevitably, Donald Trump.
The Hollywood Reporter's Dan Fienberg asked whether letting Trump host SNL was worth the high ratings, considering the enormous blowback the network got from viewers and advocacy groups. The answer was, in a word, yes.
"He was on the show for 11 minutes," said NBC president Bob Greenblatt. "The earth didn’t fall out of 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 for the Republican nomination."
"Good fodder for comedy, as well," added Paul Telegdy, NBC's president of alternative and late-night programming.
But that wasn't the last Trump question of the day. When pressed on NBC's declaration from last summer that the network would be severing its business ties with Trump — a response to his astonishingly racist rhetoric regarding Mexican immigrants — only to let him host SNL in the fall, Greenblatt tried to emphasize that NBC is no longer working with Trump on The Apprentice or the Miss Universe pageants. He then reaffirmed the network's view that, yes, ratings matter — and pointed out that NBC leadership didn't think Trump would last in the election this long, anyway.
"When most of us thought [Trump] would be waltzing into the background of the political arena, lo and behold, he’s the frontrunner," Greenblatt said. "The poll numbers are, sort of, you know, astounding. He’s everywhere ... love it or not, he's one of the most important political figures of our time."
The tl;dr: "We thought Trump was a joke, but he's still super popular, so if everyone else is cashing in on the ratings, why shouldn’t we?"
Corrected to reflect that Fienberg works for The Hollywood Reporter, not Hitfix.