Accuracy in Media

President Trump supported the NFL’s decision to change its rules to prohibit players from kneeling during the national anthem, so the mainstream media opposed it – often stretching or appearing to misrepresent the truth in the process.

The NFL announced Wednesday that league owners voted unanimously to require all personnel on the field to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”

Teams, not players, would be fined for infractions, and those who did not want to stand are allowed to stay in the locker room until after the anthem is played.

This “compelled patriotism” means “the NFL has made it clear that it stands with Trump and against the predominantly black contingent of protesting players,” wrote Slate in an article headlined, “The NFL Just Gave Donald Trump Everything He Wanted,” with a subhead that read: “How the president turned players’ protests for social justice into a huge political victory.”

An article in New York magazine said the NFL “capitulated to President Trump” in announcing the new policy, then described the president’s response: “Visibly pleased that one of the most visible symbols of American culture acceded to his demands, Trump pressed his advantage. ‘You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing,’ he told Brian Kilmeade [of Fox News].‘You shouldn’t be here. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.’”

The New York magazine story, headlined, “Most Unpatriotic President Ever Says Kneeling NFL Players ‘Shouldn’t Be in the Country,” suggested the president was not patriotic because he once replied to a question about Vladimir Putin being a killer by saying, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” and because he goaded the Russians to find the 30,000 emails Hillary Clinton had hidden from the FBI.

“Patriotism is the cover for Trump’s true intention, which is to delegitimize protest on behalf of African-American civil rights,” the magazine wrote.

“Trump has shrewdly grasped the connection his racism draws between him and his value base, which has largely forgiven the failures of his many promises to improve their lives directly by bringing back factories.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report overlooked several details, writing: “And by fining players who want to publicly protest, it is also trying to make this a financial decision by players – even though it is teams, not players, who receive the fines under the new rule.

But he identified its purpose.

“Essentially, the league is trying to shove the protests out of sight by putting them in the locker room.”

Besides, he wrote, Colin Kaepernick, who began the protests with teammate Eric Reid, have said they are not protesting the anthem or the military, but want to use “the anthem to bring attention to racial injustice and the issue of police abuse of black and brown citizens.”

Why is the NFL “handling this so poorly, crafting a policy based on fear, not practicality?” Freeman asked. “Why did billionaires, some of them firmly on the left, agree unanimously to ‘shove the protests out of sight?’”

Was it finances? Could it be the four networks that air NFL games lost a combined $500 million last year in lost revenues thanks to lower ratings spurred by the protests? Could it be that fans stayed away in droves rather than attend games where players knelt for the anthem?

No. It was because of “an intense fear” of what Trump could mean to those finances.

“Our league is f—ing terrified of Trump,” Freeman quoted a team official as saying. “ We’re scared of him.”

“Fear of losing money to thanks to an angry fan base, stirred up by the president and his supporters, clearly drove this decision.”

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