Even sports television can’t escape the heated midterm election season.
NBCUniversal is getting slammed for airing a Trump campaign spot during last night’s NBC Sunday Night Football broadcast. The ad links an undocumented immigrant convicted of killing two cops in 2014 to the caravan of migrants fleeing harsh conditions in Central America.
CNN refused to air to the spot last week, claiming it was “racist”—was broadcast.
CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist. When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined. Those are the facts. 🍎
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 3, 2018
In the spot, Trump ties Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was convicted of killing two Sacramento sheriff’s deputies in 2014, to the thousands of migrants in the caravan, even though there is no known connection between the two.
“Dangerous illegal criminals like cop killer Luis Bracamontes don’t care about our laws,” the ad said.
Debra Messing, who stars in NBC’s Will & Grace, was among those who criticized the network for airing the spot.
To our @willandgrace fans—I want you to know that I am ashamed that my network aired this disgusting racist ad. It is the antithesis of everything I personally believe in, and what, I believe, our show is all about. @nbc pic.twitter.com/CLinZKHB47
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) November 5, 2018
On Monday morning, a NBCUniversal spokesperson said the company would pull it: “After further review we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible.”
According to Adweek’s Jason Lynch, the spot was apparently cleared by NBC’s standards and practices team prior to its airing during Sunday Night Football. Following last night’s backlash, NBCUniversal reviewed the spot again this morning and made the determination to pull it.
Despite Trump’s hatred for NBC, there is a connection between the White House and the company. In May, Trump named NBCU ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino to serve a two-year term on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, but the company said that had no impact on its decision to run the ad.
And course, NBC and Trump have a long history together: Trump presided over 14 seasons of The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, but the network cut business ties with him in 2015 following his derogatory remarks about the United States’ relationship with Mexico.
Season-to-date, in Nielsen’s most current ratings, NBC Sunday Night Football has a 6.3 rating in the demo, and is averaging 18.9 million in total viewers. It’s the No. 1 program in prime time among adults 18-49, per usual. Last night’s game featured two of the best quarterbacks in the sport: Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, meaning the audience for last night’s broadcast likely exceeded the season to-date average.
Needless to say, a lot of people saw the commercial last night, and they won’t be able to un-see it.