Thomas Roberts   |  October 18, 2013

Miss Universe goes to Russia

The upcoming Miss Universe Pageant is causing an outcry among those opposed to new anti-gay laws in Russia, where this year’s international beauty contest is taking place. Donald Trump discusses.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> wasn't that a dramatic moment last year? that's where miss usa was crowned. for the past six years the miss universe competition has been held amidst the glitz and the glamour of the las vegas strip . this year the international competition originates in moscow and that has caused some outcry. in june vladimir putin signed what he called an anti-gay propaganda law which imposes heavy fines on people forcing information on nontraditional sexual relations on minors. i have agreed and accepted the assignment to co-host the miss universe competition next month in russia. i've taken some heat for that decision. i outline my rationale in a new column on msnbc.com. joining me right now to talk all about this on the phone is donald trump , whose organization is one-half of the miss universe venture, the other half being nbc universal , the parent company of msnbc. donald, thanks for joining us.

>> absolutely, thomas. my honor.

>> all right. so first before we talk about russia and the new anti- gay laws , how do you react to people who would say that miss universe is potentially outdated or sexist or masogenistic.

>> i would hear constant constantly, it's outdated. it's become one of the hot shows. the miss universe pageant will have one of the largest worldwide audiences of any show and it's a very, very powerful thing from television, from every standpoint. first of all, we're really honored to have you being a host. you're going to do a fantastic job but this is the first time i've heard this question in about five years. we've made it so hot that the question just isn't asked. we've had a lot of controversy. we have had the problems with drug abuse with some of them and they came back in a couple of cases and really came back and have become successful and we've had a couple of controversies over the years and i'm sure controversy isn't the worst thing. but the miss universe pageant and miss usa pageant have done so well that you don't hear the word "outdated" anymore. it's sort of just the opposite.

>> i know that in doing my research on this, i know that it's about building confidence for these women who spend most of their year traveling around doing great work. i know olivia has spent her time educating people on hiv and aids. but do you have concerns about the russian laws having a negative impact on the contest this year?

>> well, i don't like it. i don't like what that is all about and, as you know, and i think you probably feel very similar to me, we can go over there and maybe make a difference. you know, you can avoid it and that's one way of handling it or you can go over and perhaps make a difference. we have many people in the packa pageant and pageant system who happen to be gay and many of them you see how great they are and they are enthused about this because they think we can make a big difference as a group and individually. and i know you sort of feel the same thing, thomas.

>> i feel exactly the same way. visibility is very key on this. so i want to ask you, in offering me this assignment, i'm an openly gay and married man, you are professionally flying in the face of these laws and you are agreeing that lbgt people are integrated and equal members of society. so does that change any of your prior public stances on marriage equality here in the u.s.?

>> no, it doesn't change. i just think it's -- you are a wonderful guy. nbc felt very strongly, they came to me an explained it to me and i agreed immediately, as you probably heard. it wasn't -- you know i did not put up a fight, in fact i was very honored. i think you're going to do fantastically and i love the fact that you feel the same about the whole situation as me. because it has been controversial. going to moscow is a great thing. going in the face of some of their rules, regulations or laws is something that, frankly, we can avoid it and hide, which i don't think is good, and i can tell you the gay groups over in moscow are loving the fact that we're going over there. so we can hide or we can do something about it. and i think you're going to do something about it and i think i'm going to do something about it.

>> do you have plans to meet with vladimir putin or any other top russian officials to talk about your concerns about what these laws mean for the country and internationally?

>> many of the officials are meeting and many of the officials are coming to the big contest, and it's going to be on november 9th . it's a very, very big deal in moscow and it's just prior to the olympics, so it's a whole big thing leading into the olympics. this is a major deal. you can't get a ticket for anything in moscow . it's totally sold out. it's really an amazing thing. we have invited vladimir putin and i know for a fact that he wants very much to come, but we'll have to see. we haven't heard yet, but we have invited him.

>> okay, we will wait and see. i am very glad to align myself with this an i think visibility is important so i appreciate you all agreeing that i can handle this assignment.

>> you will do great and you and i will be working hard. you'll be working on the stage but we'll also be working behind the scenes . good luck, i'll see you there.

>> thanks so much.