Some Republicans Want Equal Airtime On NBC
Republican presidential hopefuls John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki are requesting more airtime on NBC in response to Donald Trump's hosting gig on Saturday Night Live. The GOP candidates have cited the Federal Communications Commission's "equal time" rules, which provide equal airtime on public stations for candidates running for public office. This seems a bit silly, especially considering the fact that Graham and Kasich are each polling at just 2 percent in Iowa. Compare that with Trump, who's polling at 25 percent, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Nov. 6. Pataki, meanwhile, polled at less than 1 percent in the same survey.
It's one thing for candidates to file a request if they weren't being given actual news coverage. But the 12 minutes Trump spent on Saturday Night Live are hardly a cause for concern. The sketch show certainly didn't make his presidential campaign look better. If anything, hosting SNL may have been detrimental to Trump's ambitions. Combined with the fact that Trump is doing so much better than Kasich, Graham, and Pataki in the polls — and therefore, one could argue, deserves more coverage — the requests seem like a play for attention at best.
CNN notes that while newscasts, along with the majority of talk shows, aren't included in the FCC's regulations, SNL is. Graham, Kasich, and Pataki didn't ask for airtime specifically on SNL, but on NBC programming in general. According to CNN, Kasich's campaign sent the equal time request to "both the network and the affiliates that aired Mr. Trump's appearance," while Graham's campaign sent its request to seven TV stations in Iowa and New Hampshire. Pataki's campaign, meanwhile, sent its request to TV stations that broadcast in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and New York. Citing Pataki's dismal poll numbers, CNN called Pataki's request "a last-ditch effort of a candidate who has struggled to garner voter support or media attention."
That's not to say that candidates don't deserve equal air time. For example, if NBC was only featuring Trump, and not Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, or any of the other Republican presidential candidates, that would certainly be cause for concern. But truth be told, Kasich, Graham, and Pataki are barely a blip in the radar this election season. And evening out their NBC airtime with the 12 minutes Trump spent dancing like Drake and joking about racism probably won't help their campaigns.