NBC just sold its soul to Donald Trump

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If you’ve been watching cable news this past week, you’ve seen enough bits and pieces of Donald Trump’s overtly racist (and typically dishonest) television ad about the migrant caravan to recognize it when you see it. The thing is, if you were watching the NFL Sunday Night Football game on NBC tonight, you never thought you’d see it – but you did.

In a stunning move, NBC decided to air Trump’s caravan ad during the game. Perhaps you’re not surprised. It’s not the first time a television network has run a terrible or dishonest political ad, in the name of revenue. But this ad is different. This is the one ad that’s so far beyond the pale, no one wanted to run it. In fact networks have been making a concerted effort at scoring points by announcing that they would not air it.

After Donald Trump Jr complained on Twitter this week that CNN was refusing to run the caravan ad, CNN used its official corporate communications account to tell Junior off, calling the ad “racist” in the process. We all know it’s racist. But when a major television network is flat out using that word in an official capacity, it’s clear that we’re talking about one of the most inappropriate national television ads in the history of American politics. Yet NBC ran the damn thing anyway.

   

The response to NBC was brutal. Various respondents on Twitter said things like “You lost me as a viewer” and called for a boycott of the network. Considering that such boycotts typically target all of the network’s other advertisers as well, in the name of driving them away, NBC stands to lose infinitely more money than it made from selling the ad block to Trump. With just hours to go before the most important election in American history, NBC not only sold its soul for money, it may have just made one of the biggest strategic mistakes in the network’s long history.

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