You’re Hired! How NBC Spent 11 Years Making Trump a Household Name, Building Foundation for His Campaign

Network Gave Billionaire Businessman 21 Times More Positive Coverage When They Were Partners

Billy Bush Goes Voting with the 'Next President of the United States: Donald Trump'

NBC boosted Trump as a presidential candidate, depicted him as fearless and described him as a Republican power broker during the 2012 election cycle.

On the same day in 2004 when Billy Bush told a voter to write Trump in on his ballot, Bush asked a poll worker, “How many people are writing in Donald Trump today, do you know?” The poll worker said she didn’t but that she would be the first one to do so.

Bush also told a voter that his vote was “one vote” while Trump’s vote was a “giant vote.”

Today hosts tied Trump’s run for president to his business by asking multiple Apprentice contestants whether they would support him four years before he actually ran. On Jan. 4, 2012, for example, Lauer asked a gathering of contestants whether they thought Trump would make a good president. Everyone raised their hands in agreement.

Lauer gave The Donald an exclusive interview on his book, Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again, during Today’s Dec. 5, 2011, broadcast. When Lauer asked Trump about a potential run for president, he responded in part, “You happen to like me because I have a very successful show on your network.”  

Before the 2012 presidential election, NBC boosted a potential candidacy from Trump, and solidified his political presence. For example, when NBC political director Chuck Todd discounted the possibility of a Trump candidacy on May 12, 2011, Lauer cautioned, “You never know with Donald Trump, Chuck, and we shouldn’t try to predict his future.”  

On Nov. 16, 2011, Todd attributed Trump’s success as a political figure to his fearless abandonment of political correctness. Host of The Chris Matthews Show Chris Matthews echoed that sentiment when he nominated Trump for a “Chutzpah Award” on Dec. 18, 2011. Matthews nominated Trump after the Apprentice star pushed President Obama to release his long-form birth certificate.

NBC similarly boosted Trump as a political player when he met with then Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in December of 2011.

During a Dec. 5, 2011, episode of Rock Center, anchor Brian Williams described the scenario in the following way: “Newt Gingrich became the latest GOP candidate to kiss the ring, however figuratively, of Donald Trump, who insists he is a GOP power broker who says he's still considering a run himself.”

The same day, Lauer described Trump as a “power broker” before an interview with The Donald. Holt and Todd gave the same description that month, and on the Feb. 2, 2012 episode of Today, NBC reporter Peter Alexander said Trump was acting like a “self-proclaimed kingmaker.”

In a Jan. 25, 2015, interview, Trump hinted that because of Celebrity Apprentice’s success, NBC liked him “very much.” In response, Today anchor Erica Hill commented, “There’s a lot to like.” NBC’s ended its cozy relationship with Trump in 2015, after he announced his run for president and made, as NBC put it, derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants. But after a decade of NBC showboating for the Donald, viewers should tell the network and its anchors, “You’re Fired!”