NBC Owes Americans Reparations for Promoting the Trump Myth in “The Apprentice”
As the news is breaking that Donald Trump is a tax cheat and failed businessman, it is now essential to examine NBC management’s role in creating and profiting from the myth that Trump was a billionaire businessman and billionaire even when it was apparent that his empire was a paper castle.
While the story is being examined, it’s important to see how far Trump’s tax avoidance scheme overlapped with the airing of The Apprentice reality TV show on NBC. The NBC network aired “The Apprentice” for 11 years, from 2004 to 2015. How much of that tax evasion was in this period? Did NBC management ever conduct an investigation into Trump’s businesses or did they just accept the Manhattan version?
Looks like NBC management has some explaining to do to its viewers and shareholders about its ocozy relationship with Donald Trump and its promotion of “The Apprentice.”
No network would air a reality show today featuring a plastic surgeon, handyman, realtor, or dietician unless they had verifiable degrees and credentials and had a clean record from national and state regulatory boards. If the person did not meet established professional standards, and the network knew about these violations and they aired the show anyway, the network should be guilty of aiding fraud.
What did NBC know about Trump’s businesses when the promoted the Apprentice for 11 years? During that period, they promoted Trump as “an iconic businessman.” Did they know otherwise and just ignored the rumors of Trump’s bad business practices and female sexual aggression?
As the story states, there are many journalistic and legal issues raised in NBC’s long relationship with a failed businessman and apparent sexual predator.
NBC’s Odd Relationship with Donald Trump: Perpetuating a Lie
Truth in broadcasting used to be an accepted practice, but in today’s Trump-dominated world, it is regarded as an antiquated concept.
But it wasn’t always that way.
There was a time when broadcast networks, movie studios and other major media outlets valued public opinion. As a result, major media outlets, ranging from movie studios to TV networks, policed their very visible and valuable public personalities to protect them from scandals and the resulting public wrath that could devastate box office returns, ratings, and share valuations.
But that was in the old days.
The media business changed due to media monopolization. Public opinion still mattered, but viewers had fewer alternative choices. This was accompanied by a major decline in media ethics. “Truth in broadcasting” became an idealized journalistic concept. Money and ratings became more important than spending money on the multi-tiered staff needed to operate quality newsrooms.
Instead, networks sought cheaper shows to fill time slots, even when the talent and concept of a specific show were fabricated and dishonest.
All this helps explain how NBC promoted Donald Trump in the show, “The Apprentice,” as a successful entrepreneur and businessman even when it was apparent that he was a failed businessman, with a shady and corrupt past, as well as a man accused by numerous women of making unwanted sexual advances. Instead, as this New Yorker article found, the “original show had painted the bankrupt Trump as a respected mogul.” In reality, he was a huckster and a fraud.
NBC aired “The Apprentice” for 11 years, from 2004 to 2015. As this article states “the show was hosted and co-produced by Trump, and created by Survivor producer Mark Burnett. The show was nominated for eight Emmy awards between 2004 and 2006 but never won any awards. Its first season finale was watched by 28 million Americans. Trump was paid $1 million per episode.” The relationship with NBC was profitable for Trump who said he was paid $213 million by NBC during the time the show aired.
Yet, as this timelines below show, Trump had a profitable and solid relationship with NBC even when it was readily apparent that he was being accused of victimizing women and that his claim of being the successful businessman portrayed on the show was a fiction.
If NBC would have done any due diligence and investigated Trump, it would have found out that their reality TV show was really a fantasy TV show featuring a huckster who victimized women. But all that never mattered to Jeff Zucker, then president of NBC Entertainment, and Jeff Gaspin, the network’s former chief of reality shows, who called Trump “an iconic businessman.”
While the timelines between Trump’s business failures and the accusations by women that he violated them before or after “The Apprentice” was broadcast, NBC had the public obligation to investigate or cancel the show when it discovered that Trump was a fraud. Instead, NBC became an accomplice of Trump’s and turned a blind eye to the accusations by over 25 women that Trump was a sexual predator.
Even after Trump continued to promote his false and racist claim that President Obama was not born in the US for four years did NBC executive take any action against Trump. In 2015, NBC finally fired Trump. What seemed to force NBC to fire Trump was that he was openly calling Mexicans rapists. That was bad for ratings, so the far-sighted NBC executives finally decided to fire their racist reality show Frankenstein star.
But their actions were years late. There was a plethora of public information available to NBC, but they chose to ignore these claims in pursuit of profit and ratings. In the process, NBC gave Trump billions in publicity, hundreds of millions in salary, and helped perpetuate one of the greatest charlatans in US history on the naïve and unsuspecting American public.
The Trump Failures NBC Failed to Investigate
Here is the public information that was readily available to NBC executives who hired and promoted Trump and his show which aired from 2004 to 2015.
All of these businesses filed for bankruptcy multiple times, with Trump being forced to reduce his ownership interests. The details about each of these bankruptcies is at this site.
Trump Marina (1985)
Trump Taj Mahal (1991)
Trump’s Castle and Trump Plaza Casinos (1992)
Trump Plaza Hotel (1992) This business filed for bankruptcy three times, a very unusual event.
Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts (2004)
Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009) “In February 2009, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the third time in a row — an extremely rare feat in American business,” according to Time Magazine.
Ventures that failed, but did not go bankrupt:
Trump Airlines (1988-1992)
Trump Steaks—Another failure that had the gross distinction when “Trump Steakhouse in Las Vegas [was] closed down in 2012 for 51 health code violations, including serving
five-month old duck,” according to Time Magazine.
GoTrump (online travel site) (2006) It closed within a year.
Trump Vodka (2006)
Trump Mortgage (2006)
Trump: The Game (1989)
Trump Magazine (2007) It ceased publication within a year.
Trump University (2005) This closed down and “in 2013, the New York Attorney General sued Trump and the “university” for $40 million for allegedly defrauding students,” according to Time Magazine.
Trump Ice (bottled water)
The New Jersey Generals (pro football team) (1984) For football fans, this is a case study in trump’s gross mismanagement, which effectively killed off the entire US Football League when Trump forced other owners to raise player salaries and then sue the NFL. For a good summary of this major Trump debacle, see this story at the Los Angeles Times.
Tour de Trump (bicycle race) (1989) This lasted a year.
Trump Network (nutritional supplements) (2009) This was a multi-level marketing scam that lasted until 2012 and owed thousands of people commission, as described in this article in the National Review.
Trumped! (syndicated radio spot agency)
What Type of American Society Produced Trump?
Historians will write about the “Trump phenomenon” and “Trumpism” for years, but the bigger question is what type of corrupt American society produced Trump in the first place? What allowed him to lie, cheat and steal his whole adult business career and never be caught in what most people regard as the most sophisticated city in the world?
What key elements of sophisticated Manhattan society–the media, the law, the judicial system, banks–aided and abetted a man many people consider a sociopath?
Aside from white privilege, and the tenacious misuse of the courts to wear down creditors, accusers and opponents, Trump was noted for openly violating all social norms and ethics. Worse, he attracted like-minded men and women into his administration and managed to connect with a dark streak of fear and envy in millions of Americans.
While all that will be investigated more in the decades ahead, it’s clear NBC had a major role in elevating the sociopath Trump to national status during the 11 years it broadcast and promoted The Apprentice.
During that time, it apparently never bothered to investigate whether Trump was a charlatan or abuser of women. This puts NBC’s ethics on the same level as Trump. Keep that in mind as you watch their broadcast lineup.
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