ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
NBC is done with Donald Trump. The network has severed its ties with the billionaire following controversial remarks about Mexicans. He made those when he announced that he's running for president. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says NBC's move threatens a Trump-centered media empire, which includes two beauty pageants and a reality TV show.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Donald Trump might be one of the most famous billionaires in media thanks to a starring role on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" series and his signature phrase.
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DONALD TRUMP: You're fired.
DEGGANS: But this time, it's Trump who's been fired by NBC, which ended its business relationship with the mogul today. The decision means NBC will no longer air the Miss USA or Miss Universe beauty pageants, which it co-owns with Trump. And it says Trump will no longer appear on "Celebrity Apprentice," which could continue with a new host. The controversy started with Trump's June 16 announcement that he was running for president. Early in his remarks, he criticized U.S. trade deals with foreign countries and said America had become a dumping ground for the world's problems.
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TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.
DEGGANS: That statement brought immediate criticism from many quarters, including some Hispanic groups and the Mexican government. They accused Trump of slinging stereotypes. The Spanish-language network Univision refused to air the Miss USA pageant in July, and a coalition of Latino groups urged NBC to sever its ties with the businessman. Felix Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, explained their position in a CNN interview Sunday.
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FELIX SANCHEZ: You know, we've dealt with hate speech when it came to the flag and hate speech when it came to marriage equality. And now we're dealing with hate speech when it comes to defamation of 54 million Latinos in the United States.
DEGGANS: In a statement released today, Trump said he had told NBC long ago he was quitting "The Apprentice" TV show to run for president. And he declined to back down from his earlier comments, saying, quote, "public reports routinely state great amounts of crime are being committed by illegal immigrants. This must be stopped, and it must be stopped now." Critics call that another gross generalization. This isn't the first time Trump's political comments have raised criticisms about stereotyping. He has consistently raised questions about the legitimacy of the birth certificate of President Obama. He even argued about the birth certificate on the talk show "The View."
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TRUMP: If you're going to be the president of the United States, it says, very profoundly, that you have to be born in this country.
DEGGANS: The White House released a long-form version of the president's birth certificate in 2011. Trump took credit for pressuring the administration into action. It's difficult to predict what effect NBC's action will have on Trump's brand and businesses. Other outlets may hesitate to air his pageants or any TV show featuring him for fear of enduring the same protests NBC faced. He could face similar problems with Trump-branded buildings, books or other ventures. But for now, Trump is presenting his usual response to criticism - insisting he's right and critics are wrong, even as his statements end one the highest-profile media alliances in his career. I'm Eric Deggans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.