Media

Media Interjects Race Into Trump’s NFL Criticism — Does It Mean They’re Losing?

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Will Ricciardella Social Media Strategist and Politics Writer

In what seems like a winning issue for President Donald Trump, the establishment media diverted the discussion of the president’s criticisms of both the NFL and NBA to one about racism, with scant evidence regarding his motives.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!'” Trump said in Alabama Friday evening, referring to NFL players protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.

The reaction from the establishment media and sports figures was swift, with more participating in the national anthem protests after Trump’s comments. Combine that with the president’s tweet disinviting the NBA champion Golden State Warriors — who were on the fence about visiting the White House — and you have a full-scale culture war.

“This kind of thing is why he’s president,” Rich Lowry wrote Saturday for National Review. Most Americans oppose kneeling during the national anthem as a means to protest police brutality. This is another example of Trump taking a “commonly held sentiment,” and saying it in a way that will garner incredible amounts of attention.

“When those critics lash back at him, Trump is put in the position of getting attacked for a fairly commonsensical view,” Lowry wrote.

Trump’s critics in the media, however, quickly framed his comments as racial.

“Donald Trump Can’t Stop Attacking Black Sports Officials,” read a Huffington Post headline. “Echoes of the white grievance that powered the Trump campaign can be heard,” wrote the article’s author, Travis Waldron. It was “only a matter of time” until “racial reaction embodied by Trump’s presidency” would affect the sports landscape, Waldron claimed.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who found racism in Trump’s adulation for American investment in African nations, wrote an entire piece on the “dark racial sentiment” in Trump’s criticisms. The New Yorker Magazine called the comments “racial demagoguery,” claiming “he set out to make African-American athletes the focus of national contempt.” It seems that many in the media do not want to engage on the merits.

The protests are viewed as a means to expose police brutality against the black community, stemming from racially charged incidents in Ferguson and Baltimore. Ironically, since the movement started, officers have become more reluctant to engage in active policing for fear of public backlash, and violent crime rates have skyrocketed in exclusively black neighborhoods.

St. Louis is set to have its highest homicide rate since the crack wars in the 1990s, and Baltimore is on pace to have its highest homicide rates ever. Despite comprising less than 1 percent of the total population of the U.S., Chicago alone has accounted for a whopping 20 percent increase in national murder rates.

“This has nothing to do with race. I never said anything about race,” Trump said Sunday. “This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

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