A long history with Trump

Margaret Sullivan at the Washington Post wonders why NBC sat on the Trump tape for so long.

Why didn’t NBC News do the basic journalistic work of working through its own company’s archives on Trump months ago?

It may have to do with the split between the entertainment and the news divisions — both “The Apprentice” and “Access Hollywood” are products of NBC’s entertainment side, not its news side. NBC’s news reporters are often excellent — Katy Tur, for example, has covered the Trump campaign with admirable intelligence and assertiveness, and has taken a lot of flak from the campaign for doing so.

NBC’s entertainment division has had a long history with Trump because the network was the home of “The Apprentice,” which made him a reality-TV star. Separately, Trump did hundreds of interviews with NBC for “Access Hollywood.” That means there are two separate caches of Trump-on-tape that could yield news.

Maybe the people in News just don’t talk to the people in Entertainment. Clearly they should have.

One troubling factor is that “Access Hollywood’s” segment on Trump’s horrifyingly lewd RAPEY comments — despite their stunning news value — was not scheduled to appear immediately, a spokeswoman confirmed. That only changed when news of The Post’s imminent article forced producers’ hands; they aired it Friday night, after all.

Why this material was left in the hands of an entertainment show, and not the news division, was something I couldn’t get an answer to on Saturday. And when would it have run? Since the segment wasn’t scheduled for Friday, the earliest possibility on the entertainment magazine show would have been Monday.

After the debate – the only debate moderated by a woman, Sullivan points out.

ay Rosen of New York University told me Saturday that it shouldn’t have taken very long to make the video public.

Because it was NBC’s own recording, there should have been no question about authenticity, and, as he put it, “the tape is the story.” Reaction from the campaign was the only thing left to do. “That’s an hour,” as he put it.

What’s more, NBC’s Billy Bush — a former co-host of “Access Hollywood” and now a co-host of its “Today” show, which is on the news side of NBC — knew about it for 11 years but apparently didn’t see it as newsworthy.

Or didn’t see it as something he wanted to point out to people, given all his sycophantic laughter on that tape, and his nasty “Don’t you want to give him a hug?” when he and Trump left the trailer.

There is significant public interest in knowing the answers to these questions. NBC owes it to the American electorate to answer them clearly.

Without adequate answers from the top, made publicly, it may not be unreasonable to conclude that one of the nation’s largest news companies simply wasn’t doing its job.

Does the tape shed a flattering light on NBC? No it does not.

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