Donald Trump and NBC Have Only One Way to Keep Protesters Out of ‘SNL’

Situation at Rockefeller Center will likely be “like airport security, only better,” expert tells TheWrap

If any “Saturday Night Live” ticket holders want to disrupt Donald Trump’s turn as host this weekend, NBC won’t have much chance of stopping them.

A Hispanic-American organization on Thursday offered $5,000 to any audience member who will stand up during Saturday’s live broadcast from studio 8H and and shout “Trump is a racist.” But because the action being called for by the Deport Racism PAC is a hands-free activity, options for screening those looking to cash in on it are limited.

“It’s pretty hard to control speech, because your mouth and your brain come with your body,” security expert Chris E. McGoey, president of McGoey Security Consulting, told the Wrap. NBC’s security procedures, he added, will likely be “like airport security, only better.”

That will keep out signs and props, but it won’t do anything to stop anyone from opening his or her mouth and making enough noise to interrupt the broadcast.

NBC does have one option that could virtually assure no disruption, but it’s a fairly drastic one — turn ticketholders away and fill the audience with friends of Trump and the show.

“Your only option, if you want to control it, is to control access,” McGoey said. “Maybe this is the show where you only invite certain guests.

Trump’s upcoming “SNL” appearance has drawn criticism from activists angry that NBC would invite the Republican presidential candidate to host the show after he made multiple racist remarks about Mexican immigrants. On Wednesday, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and other groups held a rally outside Rockefeller Center, where they delivered a petition bearing 522,080 signatures and asking NBCUniversal to boot Trump.

Those same groups Friday announced that they would organize a protest March from Trump Tower to Rockefeller Center on the day of show.

Should the protest seep into the studio, the best NBC could hope to do may be to shut any protester down as quickly as possible.

“Have an adequate number of staffers on hand,” McGoey said. “The hecklers will become known very quickly. They’ll stand out in the audience.”

But removing a protester comes with its own set of problems — chief among them the possibility of said removal being caught on video by another audience member. So security personnel would need to practice restraint while also acting quickly.

“The weak link in the chain is if you hire contract staff who aren’t used to working in that studio,” McGoey said. “They’re going to be loose cannons to a certain extent. You’re not sure how they’re going to react.”