Remember when a coalition of US Latino organizations successfully lobbied NBC to break its professional association with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump just a few weeks after Trump said disparaging remarks about Mexicans on June 16? There was a lot of chatter in the Latino digital space that the NBC decision marked a watershed movement for US Latinos: that a community not known for voting in large numbers had finally woken up and realized that it can impact change in fighting racist language about Mexicans, other US Latinos and immigrants in general.
A lot of people patted each other on the back, thinking that the NBC decision was a victory. Don’t mess with Latinos, NBC. We have arrived.
Apparently, that conclusion was premature, if you take into account the Trump Lovefest cub reporter Jimmy Fallon created last Friday night on his show, which gave the Fallon’s “The Tonight Show” its highest ratings in 18 months. It all started with a little comedy:
And then ended with a fanboy interview softer than a bag of melted marshmallows (here is a sample):
You would think that Fallon could have addressed something, anything about what had happened in the last few months. You would think that Fallon could have asked Trump about how many high-profile Latino stars are penning a protest song against him. Or that Trump’s popularity with US Latino voters is ridiculously low.
But Fallon didn’t, and just weeks after NBC had disassociated itself with Trump, now Trump’s message has been validated through the network’s hip and edgy late-night show. It just goes to show that NBC doesn’t give a crap. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Remember all those MSNBC promises to become a better network after it’s Cinco de Fallo craziness? That was last year. This year, MSNBC is now thinking of cutting its only Latino news anchor from its lineup. Or the whole disrespect when it comes to SNL’s Latino problem. Let’s be real: networks like NBC truly don’t care. It’s all lip service and US Latinos continue to let it happen.
There is no doubt that Fallon’s decision to feature Trump last week, the same week Stephen Colbert debuted on CBS, was a pure ratings grab. Television is an ugly business, and ethics rarely play into how final decisions get made. Yes, Fallon, his show and NBC will make sure to remind us that someone like Trump needs attention because he is the Republican front-runner, but given the context of how NBC fired Trump in July, the latest Fallon moment just confirmed what we have always said: when all is said and done, the English-language mainstream sees US Latino pressure as a temporary annoyance. The playbook is textbook: let Latino organizations raise some hell for a while, but eventually they will fizzle out. Just give it time.
In the end, mainstream US English-language networks do not take Latino organizations seriously at all.
But who can blame the networks when organizations like the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce agree to meetings with Trump (on Trump’s own home turf) and start spinning stories that Trump’s not as bad as he’s being made out to be. When organizations like the USHCC start doing that, it signals to the mainstream power structure that maybe US Latinos aren’t unified at all when it comes to Trump. Here’s the thing: Trump’s campaign knows it will never win the US Latino vote, so you might do your best to make it irrelevant, so start looking for Latino allies who will make you look good. The USHCC validated Trump just like Fallon did. And even though you see some people speaking out and telling the USHCC to cancel an upcoming public forum with Trump, the damage has been done, and Trump has already won.
The question remains if the intense pressure from Latino organizations in late June and early July will continue to grow, or have we truly passed the moment where Trump’s anti-Mexican comments will be just an afterthought? (Brief aside: how many non-Latinos, both Republicans and Democrats, have told you that Trump’s rhetoric might be crazy, but…) Jimmy Fallon made sure to keep the afterthought a reality, and shows like “Morning Joe” are also complicit. Will anyone really challenge Trump when it comes to how US Latinos have pretty much turned him into a running joke that will never get any real support from the community?
Even RNC chair Reince Preibus knows that Trump’s rhetoric has caused damage to the GOP, damage that may very likely be permanent. (Even Rick Perry thinks so.)
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus warns his party’s presidential candidates to “proceed with caution” and avoid alienating Latinos. http://cnn.it/1inCaMs
Posted by CNN Politics on Sunday, September 13, 2015
But hey, let’s keep seeing one-on-one mirror skits with Jimmy Fallon. Let’s keep humanizing Trump.
On September 22, Colbert will get his chance with Trump.
Here’s hoping Colbert acts more like an adult than Fallon.