In a meeting between Hispanic lawmakers and top executives from NBC News and MSNBC, intended in part to ease tensions stemming from the recent appearance by Donald Trump on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” a gaffe by a top NBC executive may have undermined the goodwill effort.
“NBC News President Deborah Turness committed a major blunder — as far as the Hispanic lawmakers were concerned — when she described undocumented immigrants as ‘illegals,’ a term that many in the Latino community find highly offensive,” Politico reports.
Turness was talking about coverage of the visit by Pope Francis to the U.S., in which he interacted with a girl who feared her parents would be deported because they’re “illegals,” as Turness put it.
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) interrupted Turness, saying: “I’m going to stop you right there. We use the term undocumented immigrants.”
Turness apologized, but the rest of the meeting was apparently contentious.
“Lawmakers were hoping for an explanation of why Trump hosted ‘Saturday Night Live,’ despite formal protests from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus,” Politico reports. “MSNBC and NBC News executives — who are part of a separate entity from NBC’s entertainment division, which oversees SNL — came expecting to talk about the progress they’ve made in making their newsrooms more diverse.”
At one point during the meeting, Turness reportedly spoke Spanish, saying: “We love the Hispanic community. …Yo hablo español.”
“But that didn’t go over well with lawmakers, some of whom left irate,” Politico reports.