Should Trump Be Fired From ‘Apprentice’?

Donald Trump is waiting to announce whether he's running for president until after taping of "The Apprentice" concludes. Some thing NBC shouldn't allow him to wait.

Donald Trump is waiting to announce whether he’s running for president until after taping of “The Apprentice” concludes. Some thing NBC shouldn’t allow him to wait.

The Hill (“Weiner: NBC should tell Trump, ‘You’re fired’“):

A New York Democrat asked Tuesday how long it would take for “The Apprentice” host Donald Trump to lose his job due to his flirtations with running for president.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) suggested that Trump, the real estate mogul and reality TV star, should be fired for running for president and the comments he’s made while readying a possible campaign.

Weiner tweeted:

There is no law against stupid, but when is Comcast/NBC/Kabletown gonna fire Trump? #MaybeWeDoNeedSuchALawTrump’s raised eyebrows for his work to prepare a presidential campaign, having appeared with some frequency in the media in recent weeks, partly to voice “birther” rumors that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.


It’s not without precedent for formal candidates for office to lose their TV gigs, or at least compensation for their media appearances. Fox News ended its contracts with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who were both contributors to the network, after judging that both were likely to run for president. (Fox has maintained contributor relationships, so far, with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.)

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) was also forced to depart from his gig as a character on NBC’s “Law & Order” in the summer of 2007, after he indicated that he would seek the Republican nomination in 2008.

Why? The Fairness Doctrine has long since expired, so networks are not required to provide “equal time” for opponents. And, bizarre as the notion that being a buffoon on television makes on more likely to be elected president is to me, it’s surely Trump’s right to exploit that fact.

In the days where three television networks dominated the airwaves–I remember them well–there was some merit to the idea that it was unfair for station owners to give one candidate or party a free platform. But those days are long gone. There are now hundreds of channels, each with their own niche of viewers.

The Fox News case is somewhat different. Having people who are obviously candidates for the Republican nomination on air as “analysts” would not only hurt their reputation but alienate viewers who are supporters of other candidates. (And the fact that they’ve allowed Huckabee and Palin to remain on air is one strong reason why I don’t think either will actually run.)

But entertainment shows? I’ve never watched a single episode of “The Apprentice” but I’ve never had the impression that there’s political messaging going on. Yes, having Trump host a show adds marginally to his celebrity; but he’s hardly having difficulty getting on television.

One the principle is established, it’s not clear where one draws the line. Is it formal announcement? Mere hinting that one might run? Refusal to categorically deny running if asked a direct question? Rumors that one might run? For that matter, why not make the policy retroactive? Trump’s already famous, largely because of all his television appearances over the last twenty-five years or so. Shouldn’t all the other candidates be given catch-up time?

Also, you know who I’ve suddenly seeing on TV a lot? Anthony Weiner.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Popular Culture, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. steve says:

    Let him stay on. Let the opposition have access to old shows so they can run a “best of” show.

  2. Insert name here says:

    Phillip K. Dick was right… The “News Clown” has come to rule the airwaves.

  3. john personna says:

    It doesn’t matter. He is what he is. If he wins (if we are such an f’d up country that we deserve him), then that’s the story.

  4. TG Chicago says:

    The Fox News case is somewhat different. Having people who are obviously candidates for the Republican nomination on air as “analysts” would not only hurt their reputation…

    Thanks for the laugh. It’s sad to see OTB’s continuing decline, though.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @TG Chicago: Having analysts who are conservatives–or even a bit wacky–doesn’t hurt their reputation, since their reputation is as a conservative alternative network. You probably have some idea what Charles Krauthammer or Bill Kristol are going to say before they say it–but you’re getting their opinion.

    But even staunch Republicans would be mad if you had Gingrich on “analyzing” his primary opponents in the guise of being an objective analyst.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Fire Trump. Keep his hair.

  7. FredW says:

    I don’t think the issue is the “Fairness Doctrine” but the “Equal Time” rule. The other Republican candidates could demand an equal amount of airtime. I don’t think this is so much an issue for cable networks but it is for broadcast (TV and radio).