A top NBC executive apologized to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus after using the “i-word” in reference to undocumented immigrants during a meeting with the lawmakers, Politico reports.
While discussing NBC’s integration with Telemundo, its Spanish-language network, NBC News President Deborah Turness gave an example about how it had covered Pope Francis’ U.S. visit. According to Politico, she described the pontiff’s interaction with a girl who feared the deportation of her parents because they were “illegals.”
“I’m going to stop you right there,” interjected Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), according to Politico. “We use the term ‘undocumented immigrants.’”
Use of the term “illegals” to describe immigrants who are in the U.S. without documentation is offensive to many. Realizing her gaffe, Turness apologized.
MSNBC and NBC News executives, who represent the company’s news division, came to the meeting expecting to discuss progress toward including more Hispanics in their newsrooms. But the caucus members also wanted an explanation for Donald Trump’s recent controversial appearance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which drew about 200 protesters outside the studio.
Trump has refused to apologize for inflammatory remarks he made regarding undocumented Mexican immigrants. He said, “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”
However, at the meeting, the NBC executives could not answer questions about the network’s entertainment division’s decision to allow Trump to host SNL. That increased the lawmakers’ frustrations. They questioned why the network had failed to send someone who could address that concern.
Politico reports that the meeting grew more uncomfortable when Turness spoke Spanish: “We love the Hispanic community. … Yo hablo español,” Turness said, lawmakers in attendance told Politico.
In a statement, NBC said the meeting was “an open and respectful dialogue about the progress that’s been made on diversity both in front of and behind the camera in the news division,” according to Politico.
Read more at Politico.