Maybe Donald Trump might like call to call this "The Art of the TV Deal." That's what I'm calling it anyway: The "Today" show has announced that it will air a Town Hall forum moderated by Matt Lauer on Oct. 26.
This comes just a day after an exclusive and much-hyped Katy Tur interview -- which aired repeatedly on MSNBC Wednesday -- and an announcement that Donald Trump will host "Saturday Night Live" on Nov. 7.
(Et tu, CNBC?)
OK, there's nothing wrong with this, exactly, but there's something odd and borderline unseemly about it. A major news figure who is supposed to be covered independently by the network's news division, but who is also going to be the host of its most important entertainment show -- and whose "SNL" appearance will then be covered exhaustively all over again by its news division?
There's a term for this in journalism: It's called logrolling.
NBC and Trump are logrolling together.
It's clever, too. I have to grudgingly admit that as well. Trump is a ratings monster, and in one quick stroke, NBC has re-embraced its former star all over again. Recall that NBC fired Trump from "The Celebrity Apprentice," then sold its stake in "Miss USA" after his comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants.
Nevertheless, the Trump thaw began almost as soon as the freeze began., At the recent news tour, NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt called Trump "a lovely guy" when he was asked about his personal dealings with Trump. But the message was mixed. I later asked Greenblatt about the possibility of Trump's return to "Apprentice" if the presidential run ended at some point. His words were unequivocal: "Absolutely not."
Instead, looks like Trump ended up with an even better deal. (The Donald is no fool).
As Wile E. Coyote might have put it, genius. Sheer geeenius.
From the news release on the forum:
"In an exclusive NBC News event, Matt Lauer will moderate a town hall discussion with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The town hall will be broadcast live from New Hampshire on 'Today' Monday, Oct. 26. Lauer will also sit down with Trump for a live one-on-one interview prior to the town hall."