NBC Fears Trump Security in NYC ‘Bankrupting’ Local Businesses

Teasing an upcoming report on Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer hyped fears that security measures in New York City for Donald Trump were driving local shops and restaurants out of business: “Up next, is increased security for the President-elect around Trump Tower bankrupting nearby businesses?”

Introducing the report minutes later, Lauer noted “the cost of protecting the President-elect,” followed by substitute co-host Hoda Kotb warning: “Security around Trump Tower here in midtown Manhattan has taken over the surrounding streets and some small businesses in the area say they are paying the price.”

Correspondent Hallie Jackson, reporting live from outside Trump Tower, pointed out: “...look at what's right nearby, you’ve got a big police presence, that's a security checkpoint, and then barricades like this one, blocking not just the sidewalk, but the street behind me, too.” She added: “All of it coming with a cost for some local businesses.” The headline on-screen proclaimed: “Trump Tower Bad for Business?; Small Business Owners Say Tight Security Hurting Bottom Line.”

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Jackson listed examples of impacted businesses near the Manhattan high rise:

Just look at Carlos Lobo Salon, hardly any foot traffic outside, with even some regulars staying away....[owner] Patricia Spuri says business is down 45% from last year. She and others blame the barricades blocking public traffic, the heavy police presence, the nearby command post.... The cost to some businesses near Trump Tower – big bucks. Derek Walsh owns the bar Judge Roy Bean....It’s not just high-profile places like Tiffany's predicting a bit of a sales slowdown at its flagship store due to “election-related activity,” plenty of smaller spots are struggling. Dozens signing a petition in protest, like Carlos Roman....His Cuban deli is just around the corner from Trump Tower.

Jackson concluded the segment: “Less than a month until Inauguration Day and a move to the White House for Donald Trump, many in midtown hope 2017 brings better business. Until then, bracing begrudgingly for more red ink.”

Here is a full transcript of the December 22 report:

7:38 AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Up next, is increased security for the President-elect around Trump Tower bankrupting nearby businesses?

7:41 AM ET SEGMENT:  

MATT LAUER: We are back with the cost of protecting the President-elect.

HODA KOTB: Yeah, security around Trump Tower here in midtown Manhattan has taken over the surrounding streets and some small businesses in the area say they are paying the price. NBC's Hallie Jackson is there this morning. Hey, Hallie.

HALLIE JACKSON: Hey there, Hoda. Good morning to you. You know that Trump Tower has become its own kind of tourist attraction. But look at what's right nearby, you’ve got a big police presence, that's a security checkpoint, and then barricades like this one, blocking not just the sidewalk, but the street behind me, too. That's where those business owners say tourism here simply isn't translating to them.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Tower Bad for Business?; Small Business Owners Say Tight Security Hurting Bottom Line]
 
Towering over Fifth Avenue, home base for the President-elect. Plenty of people checking it out and plenty of protection keeping it safe. All of it coming with a cost for some local businesses.

MAURO CAPURSO [NEW YORK RESIDENT]: It's a disaster. For these little shops, little restaurants, it's a disaster.

JACKSON: Just look at Carlos Lobo Salon, hardly any foot traffic outside, with even some regulars staying away.

PATRICIA SPURI [OWNER OF CARLOS LOBO SALON]: A lot of my clients that are loyal, they're here, they're not tourists, don't come inside, “It’s too hard to go there.”

JACKSON: Patricia Spuri says business is down 45% from last year. She and others blame the barricades blocking public traffic, the heavy police presence, the nearby command post. All of it making it trickier to get around an already-congested area.

SPURI: I cannot survive if that doesn't change. I cannot do this.

JACKSON: The traffic headaches part of what it takes to protect the President-elect, an estimated cost of $750,000 a day. The cost to some businesses near Trump Tower – big bucks. Derek Walsh owns the bar Judge Roy Bean.

DEREK WALSH [OWNER OF JUDGE ROY BEAN]: I don't see tourists wanting to have to walk by the bomb squad and the command post and the 30 heavily armed police officers and the barricades. Would you want to walk down that street?

JACKSON: It’s not just high-profile places like Tiffany's predicting a bit of a sales slowdown at its flagship store due to “election-related activity,” plenty of smaller spots are struggling. Dozens signing a petition in protest, like Carlos Roman.

[TO CARLOS ROMAN] Plantains, I see those.

CAROLOS ROMAN: We have sweet plantains here.

JACKSON: His Cuban deli is just around the corner from Trump Tower.

ROMAN: Because business is dropping, all my employees have been cut hours and I feel bad for them, but there’s nothing we can do.

JACKSON: You would think Trump Tower is kind of a tourist attraction for some folks, though. You’d think with so much foot traffic you’d get more folks popping in.

ROMAN: Yeah, we have some kind of tourists walking in, but it’s very difficult for them to find us in this spot once the street is closed.

JACKSON: The trade-off? He is getting another kind of customer – police patrolling nearby. The Secret Service tells NBC it works to plan in advance and evaluate the impact of its operations, adding, “[It] makes every effort to minimize disruptions to businesses and the community while simultaneously maintaining the highest level of security for the individuals we are mandated to protect and the general public.”

Less than a month until Inauguration Day and a move to the White House for Donald Trump, many in midtown hope 2017 brings better business. Until then, bracing begrudgingly for more red ink.

But remember, even after the inauguration, the building of course stays here and so do Melania Trump and son, Barron – at least through the end of the school year. That means that there will still be protection here in 2017 and beyond.

That presence, by the way, isn't just on the ground, it’s also in the air. Remember last week when those military helicopters and that plane was circling midtown? Turns out law enforcement sources are now telling WNBC that was part of an evacuation drill in order to see where those choppers could land and how long it two take to get President-elect Trump out in case of some kind of emergency. Hoda, Matt?

KOTB: Hallie Jackson. Hallie, thanks for that. Interesting.

LAUER: Yeah, it is.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC