NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — During Donald Trump’s opening “Saturday Night Live” monologue, he was heckled by someone offstage calling him a racist.
But it was comedian Larry David, who moments earlier had performed his own impersonation of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
“Larry, what are you doing?” Trump asked.
“I heard if I did that I would get $5,000,” said David with a shrug, echoing an offer reportedly made by pro-Hispanic groups protesting Trump’s appearance.
“As a businessman, I can fully respect that,” Trump said.
Amid high anticipation, sharp criticism and calls for Trump to be dumped, the Republican presidential candidate hosted Saturday’s “SNL” as scheduled.
Hours earlier, dozens of protesters marched from Trump Tower to NBC’s studio in Rockefeller Plaza, chanting in both English and Spanish and carrying signs.
Some chanted: “Dump Trump!” and “How do you spell racism? S-N-L,'” 1010 WINS’ Steve Kastenbaum reported. In Spanish, they chanted: “The people united shall never be defeated.”
“I’m Mexican and I’m definitely not a criminal,” one protester said. “I’m not a rapist.”
“It’s very clear that Donald Trump’s rhetoric is racist,” another man said. “It’s anti-immigrant.”
“‘SNL’ is giving him a free platform to publicize his racist ideology as if it was a joke, as if it was a punch line just for ratings,” one woman said.
Nearby, there was a small group of people in support of Trump’s appearance.
“I am here to defend Trump’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment,” a supporter told WCBS 8880’s Ginny Kosola.
The Saturday TV platform granted Trump fanned the flames of outrage sparked in June when he announced his Republican candidacy for president and described some Mexicans who are in the United States illegally as criminals and rapists.
Many immigrants, especially Latinos, said they find the presidential candidate’s statements and positions about immigration offensive, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
Antonio Alarcon with Make the Road New York, said Trump’s comments describing illegal immigrants as criminals and rapists are hurtful to Latinos and paint the wrong picture for non-Hispanics.
“Like Mexicans are rapists, Mexicans are drug dealers. Personally, as a Mexican, I am a student. I’m not a rapist,” he said.
And like generations of immigrants before him, Alarcon said his parents brought him to the United States for a better life and a good education.
Alarcon said the purpose of the protest is to wake up the media and to make sure Latino voters aren’t deceived by Trump’s overall popularity.
This week, NBC faced mounting pressure from a coalition of advocacy groups calling for Trump to be dropped from “SNL” for what one spokesman termed his “racist demagoguery.”
The network has not responded, and Trump said he believes the controversy will boost the audience for the episode.
“It’s very shameful for them to remain silent despite the fact that there’s outcry out here in the streets of New York for them choosing to have Donald Trump as host of their program,” protester Juan Escalante said. “And that they continue to ignore half a million people from across this country is definitely something they should be ashamed of.”
Earlier this week, “SNL” released several promotional spots featuring Trump, including one in which he refers to a Republican opponent, Ben Carson, as “a complete and total loser.”
Despite a 40-year history of lampooning politicians while inviting some to mock themselves as on-air guests, booking a presidential candidate to host the NBC sketch-comedy show is almost unprecedented.
Previously, only eight politicians served as guest hosts. Only one of those — the Rev. Al Sharpton in 2003 — was actively involved in a presidential bid at the time.
Hillary Clinton appeared in last month’s season premiere, but not as the host.
This won’t be Trump’s first turn as guest host. The billionaire developer and media celebrity presided in April 2004, a few weeks after NBC’s “The Apprentice” debuted.
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