The NBC networks – once "Proud as a Peacock” – have had quite a week. First, they overcovered Donald Sterling’s racist comments with shock and awe, overplaying them well beyond their significance.
NBC Sports then aired the Stanley Cup Playoff game between Boston and Montreal where Bruins fans went crazy on Twitter with racist rants about African-American P.K. Subban’s game winning goal in double overtime.
Then the trifecta: on Saturday night, an SNL “newbie,” Leslie Jones, did a sketch where she mentioned how she would go number one in the “Slave Draft.”
Some of this content was downright racist and, at a minimum, had shades of discrimination. And no doubt, one would hope that it would make most broadcasters at least a bit more cognizant this week of his or her surroundings when it comes to the sensibilities of some minorities.
So let’s just say that when it comes to being "on guard," NBC should have probably been trying to make sure that they don’t offend the minority groups to whom they usually countenance and who are an important part of their audience.
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However, two days ago, something happened that confirmed what I’ve long said and written about. When it comes to most cable news networks, Latinos don’t matter.
As I recount how abhorrent it was, let me mention that I was lucky enough not to see it live, mainly because I don’t tend to “lean” in any direction when I get my news, and certainly don't look for slant and opinion that early in the morning.
So what happened? It was a Cinco De Mayo piece on the “Way Too Early Show” with host Thomas Roberts with horribly cringe-worthy allusions to mas tequila and maracas. Giant sombreros also made an appearance.
All they needed to make it a little more insensitive and offensive would have been “Speedy Gonzales,” “Jose Jimenez," and maybe “Frito Bandito” holding the microphone. They probably tried to book the Taco Bell chihuahua as a guest too, but I'm guessing he was put to sleep.
The Cinco De Mayo theme would continue popping up sporadically throughout the show, with some key moments including, but not limited to, Tequila backdrops, stumbling, and an interview with the one Hispanic employee they seemed to find that I guess works there. (No, she doesn’t work in front of the camera, but was conveniently placed there during the segment to enlist her cooperation bashing Mexicans.)
I guess she felt she had no choice. Maybe she is now in line for a promotion. If not, maybe one day, her children or her grandchildren will one day work their way up the Peacock ladder to actually become hosts of a show.
By the way, how cruel is it to put her in a position where she has to condone her non-Hispanic colleagues caricaturing Latinos? Seems like an HR issue in the making.
Had they had the clout to get Justin Timberlake in a taco suit to do his SNL “Give it on up to Liquorville” sketch, they might have. After all, it would have gone viral. More people would have watched that clip than watch MSNBC in a week. Maybe a month.
But it’s MSNBC, and it’s not like NBC has a Spanish-speaking network or audience, right? Oh wait--they own Telemundo. But they figure those people only speak Spanish, so who cares.
Assuming it’s OK to diss Latinos or simply not hire them for high-profile English-speaking broadcasting jobs because they have a Spanish-language network "just for them" is an all too often used excuse that we have heard for years. Too bad it’s just plain wrong. Note to NBC: according to the last census, 76 percent of Latinos speak English.
In MSNBC’s defense, they were just goofing on Mexicans. No one important. It wasn’t "real" racism or sexism or homophobia. It was jalapeño and tequila jokes, not Donald Sterling statements.
In their mind, prejudice is obviously a black or white issue. Or perhaps a man versus woman or a gay versus straight issue. Apparently, it’s just not a brown issue.
How funny, ironic and sad that the network which cries the most about discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia), day and night, true or false, proven or unproven—and uses racism charges as a bludgeoning tool against it’s political opponents and competing networks--doesn’t see fit to care about the sensibilities of 17 percent of the U.S. population.