You’re Hired! How NBC Spent 11 Years Making Trump a Household Name, Building Foundation for His Campaign
Table of Contents:
- You’re Hired! How NBC Spent 11 Years Making Trump a Household Name, Building Foundation for His Campaign
- NBC Venerates Trump, Dubs Him ‘King of the Universe’
- NBC Hypes Trump’s Businesses and His Success
- Today Becomes a Megaphone for The Apprentice and Miss USA
- NBC Severely Under-Reports Trump’s Business Failures
- NBC’s Relationship with Trump Fraught with Ethical Shortcomings
- Billy Bush Goes Voting with the ‘Next President of the United States Donald Trump’
- Methodology and Recommendations
NBC Venerates Trump, Dubs Him 'King of the Universe'
NBC imprinted a mythic persona of Trump onto its programming, and at times exhibited almost cult-like reverence for its reality star and his success.
Trump got a literal red-carpet welcome before a Nov. 10, 2005, interview on Today. As the theme “The Imperial March,” from Star Wars played, Today weatherman Al Roker gave Trump an epic introduction.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve all have [of] course heard of Darth Vader, you’ve seen the storm troopers. Well, this is the intergalactic king of the universe ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump, of course of The Apprentice.”
While Roker narrated, Trump walked down a red carpet lined with storm troopers who turned as he walked past them. Roker then asked Trump about that night’s Apprentice episode which featured a challenge related to the new Star Wars movie.
“And The Apprentice this year, I mean you guys have really gone intergalactic now,” Roker added.
Roker’s praise was outlandish, but his colleagues managed to outdo him when they all but elevated The Donald to messiah status. Throughout its broadcasts, NBC painted Trump as a savior who rescued others from impending demise.
After Trump allowed a scandal-plagued Tara Conner to maintain her Miss USA title, Today anchors described the episode with language one might find in the New Testament. During a Feb. 3, 2007, episode of Dateline, Lauer framed the Miss USA story as Trump’s “divine intervention” saving Conner, who “promise[d] to sin no more.”
In that same episode, Lauer creepily remarked that Conner was spreading the message of “rehab and rebirth,” and asked Trump whether he thought “a resurrected Miss USA” would bode well for the pageant’s public image.
Then Today anchor Meredith Vieira similarly suggested Trump might have been “divine” on Dec. 20, 2006. “You know that old saying, ‘To err is human, to forgive divine’?” Vieira asked. “Well, I'm not sure that I would call Donald Trump divine, but he's been very forgiving to Miss USA, Tara Conner.”
In a March 3, 2013, hour-long episode, Dateline portrayed Trump as a savior, rescuing guests from the curse of winning the lottery. After NBC reporter Natalie Morales explained the “lottery curse,” a higher likelihood that winners would go bankrupt, she presented Trump as the man who could rescue them.
NBC brought the lottery winners to Trump’s headquarters in New York where Morales introduced him saying, “Well, when you think about making money, one man rises to the top. And that would be Donald Trump, of course.”
Trump then entered Dateline the same way he entered the 2016 presidential race: descending down a Trump Tower escalator with music playing in the background. Morales explained that Trump rebounded from his own monetary loss and that he wanted to “come to the rescue of our lottery winners to make sure they don’t lose all their money.”
Dateline even made the episode a family affair, bringing on Trump’s three children (Eric, Ivanka, and Donald Jr.) as advisers to the lottery winners.
The episode ended in Trump’s boardroom, where the Donald and his son judged the winners’ investment ideas. Morales closed by narrating, “After spending time with Donald Trump, they’re more confident, more determined to remain millionaires for the rest of their lives.”
On May 3, 2009, Dateline said it had “an event so special we’ll have Donald Trump here with us live.” The event was a surprise money giveaway for a family unaware of their very large inheritance.
“I love to give away money,” Trump said, “and we’re going to make some people very happy tonight.” After Trump gave the family more than $693,000, then NBC anchor Tiki Barber asked him about that night’s episode of The Apprentice.