When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the National Anthem last year, he said he was drawing attention to police brutality against black Americans.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubted Colin Kaepernick’s motivations, suggesting that the former NFL quarterback was protesting America and not police brutality. While responding to reporters, Huckabee Sanders said, “I think if the debate is really, for them, about police brutality they should probably protest the officers on the field protecting them instead of the American flag.”
Sanders: If the debate is about police brutality, they should protest the officers defending them, not the flag https://t.co/Gztu9Q0DvK
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 25, 2017
Essentially, Huckabee Sanders doubted the official narrative surrounding the protest. According to the Press Secretary protesting the flag sends mixed messages, especially when there are police officers nearby. If protesting football players were really concerned about police brutality, then why don’t they protest police?
President Trump drummed up controversy last Friday night while speaking at a rally in Alabama when he took aim at Kaepernick and other protesting players. According to CNN, President Trump told a cheering crowd that the only way to stop the protests is to “leave the stadium” if players kneel during the National Anthem. “I guarantee, things will stop,” President Trump said, if owners start losing money.
Trump added that the owners should take responsibility for their players un-American antics, and start holding them responsible.
Critics of Trump were immediately outraged, and claimed that the president’s statements were racially motivated. Further, critics suggested that Trump was planning to undermine the players’ First Amendment rights by exercising his own.
At yesterday’s press conference, a reporter lodged a loaded question at Huckabee Sanders, insinuating that Trump’s reaction to the National Anthem protests was racist. The reporter charged that Trump did not believe that the NFL players are protesting police brutality, while he did believe the white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, who claimed to be standing up for “heritage and not hate.”
“So, why is there this disparity about who gets to decide what protest is about?” the reporter asked, insinuating that the race of the protester determines whether or not Trump takes them at their word.
However, this reporter fundamentally misrepresented Trump’s statements surrounding the Charlottesville protests in an attempt to create controversy.
“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch,” President Trump said during a hectic press conference after the Charlottesville protests, as transcribed by NPR. “Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. … And you take a look at some of the groups, and you see and you’d know it if you were honest REPORTERs, which in many cases you’re not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.”
Contrary to the loaded question lobbied by this dishonest reporter, President Trump was not taking white supremacists at their word. He condemned white supremacists numerous times, but he also suggested not everyone protesting in Virginia was a neo-Nazi.
The media’s role in spreading misinformation is clear. Not only do they push distorted versions of Trump and his comments, but they push the notion of Anthem protests as some sort of effective response against law enforcement. Perhaps those protesting should know what they’re protesting, and address it directly instead of demonstrating before unrelated symbols.