Speed Reads

Trump v NFL

The bizarre politics of the Trump-NFL feud in two clips from the Dallas Cowboys and Fox News

For President Trump's base, the president's feud with the National Football League is "the red meat of all red meat," Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said on Monday afternoon, but they're wrong that the NFL players who kneel during the national anthem are protesting the flag. "They're upset about racial injustice and they're upset about the things that the president has said," he added, suggesting that Trump is using the fight to distract his base from the failure of the ObamaCare repeal effort and the fact that "North Korea's the biggest mess since the Cold War."

Smith was talking with Politico congressional reporter Rachael Bade, who said one Republican had just told her that Trump amplifying the protests is not helpful. "It's an ugly dispute right now," she said. "People in general don't like it when folks protest the national anthem." "Of course, they're not protesting the national anthem," Smith cut in. "That's not what they're doing. You know, we're complicit," he added, chuckling. Bade reverted to Trump's argument that the players were protesting the flag, but said: "It has become about more than just the flag, honestly, because the folks feel like the president is bullying black football players after the Charlottesville controversy, just a few weeks later. So, it's just bad all around for Republicans, we can say that."

Shep Smith correcting a Politico reporter on Fox News about what NFL players are protesting is one strange wrinkle in Trump's ongoing fight. A few hours later, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — one of only two NFL owners who did not release a statement supporting his players or criticizing Trump after Trump urged owners to fire "son of a bitch" protesters — had another: he took to the field with his team before the Cowboys-Cardinals game on Monday night, and locked arms with them then knelt before standing for the national anthem. Like the Cowboys, the Cardinals also linked arms during the anthem.

Some parts of the crowd in Arizona booed Jones and the Cowboys kneeling before the anthem, a gesture meant to unify both sides.