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Rep. Cárdenas Confirms Rocky NBC-Trump Meeting

A spokesman for Rep. Tony Cárdenas, a member of the Hispanic Media Caucus, confirmed a story in Capitol Hill newspaper Politico that caucus members met with NBC officials Nov. 18, including from NBC News and MSNBC, to register their concerns about the network tapping Donald Trump to host Saturday Night Live, but that the meeting had generated more hard feelings.

Hispanic groups had protested the hosting invite given the GOP presidential candidate's disparaging statements about Mexican immigrants.

Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), a member of the caucus who was also at Wednesday's meeting, had last month asked SNL to disinvite Trump.

The caucus members, including Cárdenas, were looking to clear the air with Wednesday's meeting, but left unsatisfied.

NBC News president Deborah Turness' reference to "illegals" during the meeting was a sore spot, and she apologized after it was pointed out that the term is offensive to many in the Hispanic community, which considers it pejorative and prefers "undocumented immigrants."

Her efforts to "Yo Hablo Espanol" (speak Spanish) did nothing to smooth the waters, according to Politico and confirmed by Cárdenas' office.

Also at issue was the fact that no entertainment execs were at the meeting, Cárdenas pointed out, even though Trump's appearance was the top agenda item--they also talked about NBC diversity efforts.

“There was a lot of frustration in the room,” Cárdenas (D-Calif.) told Politico. “You know that [Trump is] an issue on all of our minds and as soon as you start talking about it, you say none of the executives for the entertainment [division] are here. It was a cop out. It was disingenuous.”

NBC has not been unresponsive to complaints about the Trump comments, however. Following his remarks, NBCU and Univision severed ties with Trump, including dropping coverage of his beauty pageants, a move that drew praise from Cárdenas at the time, who praised NBC for distancing itself from those remarks, though clearly the legislators say NBC reducing that distance via the SNL appearance.

Talking about Mexican immigrants early in his campaign, Trump said that Mexico was not sending its best and brightest, including saying: "They're rapists, and some I am sure are good people." Trump later defended the remarks on CNN and even expanded the indictment.

An NBC spokesperson had not returned a request for comment on the meeting at press time, but a spokesperson characterized it to Politico as a "an open and respectful dialogue..."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.