On Monday, a day after more than 200 NFL players took a knee, sat, or stayed in the locker room during the national anthem, even Fox News’ Shepard Smith is defending their right to protest.
The Fox News anchor told his guest, POLITICO reporter Rachael Bade, that those who interpret the players’ demonstrations as unpatriotic and disrespectful to the flag (including the president himself) are wrong.
“It’s very clear, that from his base, this is the red meat of all red meat, because they’re able to reframe this. They’re able to say, ‘Oh, they’re attacking the national anthem. They’re attacking the troops. They’re attacking the flag.’ None of which they’re doing. They’re not doing any of that. They’re upset about racial injustice in the country, and they’re upset about the things that the president has said. And he’s able to turn it around for his base.”
Bade said the incident was “bad all around for Republicans,” as it appears to many that Trump is “bullying black football players,” just weeks after the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville.
On Friday, President Trump denounced protests of the national anthem, like those done by former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernik to take a stand against systemic racism and police brutality. He told attendees of his rally in Alabama that he would love to see NFL owners respond to protesters by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!”
Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag —- we MUST honor and respect it! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Smith called those who framed the story as athletes disrespecting American values complicit in…