Donald Trump had a rough day on the political front Tuesday. But the president still found support by addressing one of his favorite topics: NFL player protests of the national anthem.
Trump called out ESPN during a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night, criticizing the network over its intended policy to not televise the national anthem during “Monday Night Football” broadcasts this season.
“You’re proud of our country, you’re proud of our history, and unlike the NFL, you always honor and cherish our great American flag,” Trump told a legion of supporters at the rally.
“It was just announced by ESPN that rather than defending our anthem — our beautiful, beautiful national anthem — and defending our flag, they’ve decided that they just won’t broadcast when they play the national anthem. We don’t like that.”
ESPN typically hasn’t televised the national anthem in years past, and network president Jimmy Pitaro recently told reporters that policy likely won’t change in 2018. Trump, who has painted NFL players who don’t stand for the national anthem as un-American and unpatriotic, used Tuesday night’s platform to continue that crusade.
“So while the players are kneeling — some of them, not all of them at all — you’re all proudly standing for our national anthem,” Trump said, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
The movement of NFL players kneeling, sitting or raising their fists during the national anthem, which Colin Kaepernick started in 2016 as a protest against social injustice and police brutality against minorities in America, has continued into the 2018 preseason. It’s still unclear how the NFL will handle these protests, as the league and the NFL Players Association recently agreed to pause their ongoing discussions on the subject.
Thumbnail photo via Andrea Melendez/Naples Daily News via USA TODAY NETWORK