Say this about Donald Trump — he has an innate sense of showmanship.
Trump knows that controversy sells, so his response when told that illegal immigration activists might disrupt his appearance on Saturday Night Live tonight reflects a keen understanding of the modern TV universe:
Mr. Trump brushed off the criticisms earlier this week and said that his appearance will help drive record ratings to the show.
“Look, I think they should demonstrate,” Mr. Trump said during a press conference to announce his new book Tuesday. “Ratings will go even higher than they are going to be. It’s going to be one of their highest-rated shows ever and they’re very excited about it.”
Only 3 times in SNL history has the show been on a 7-second delay rather than airing live. You have to wonder if NBC will insist on the delay to avoid a disruption.
This will be Mr. Trump’s second appearance on the long-running show, with the celebrity businessman hosting the show in 2004 when he was the co-host of NBC’s show “The Apprentice.”
NBC released promo videos for the show earlier in the week, including one featuring Mr. Trump calling Republican Ben Carson a “total loser”. That video has since been pulled.
Activists protested outside of NBC’s New York City studios Wednesday, and delivered a petition with more than 500,000 signatures to a network representative, said Juan Escalante of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group. No one from NBC has reached out to activists to discuss their concerns, Mr. Escalante said.
Protesters have recruited a number of Hispanic celebrities to their cause, including actor John Leguizamo and author Junot Diaz. Activists intend to rally in front of Trump Towers Saturday evening before marching over to NBC several blocks away. They also wrote an open letter to cast members urging them to speak out.
Asked about the petition, Mr. Trump said Tuesday that it would only make his SNL appearance “hotter.”
Mr. Trump appeared to pay no mind to the ongoing controversy, and tweeted out a photo of him in wig that mimics the one worn by musical guest Sia. The two will cohost the show, along with Cecily Strong.
Democrat Hillary Clinton drew laughs for her SNL appearance last month, where she played a bartender consoling a version of herself played by Kate McKinnon. Among the other 2016 contenders, Republican Gov. Chris Christie appeared on the show in 2012 before he was running for president.
Trump is in his element doing appearances like this. He apparently had some input or veto power over the kind of skits about him — a wise precaution given SNL’s notorious liberal bias.
Being a natural in front of the camera, Trump will milk his appearance for all it’s worth. It should make for entertaining TV.