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national anthem protests
June 5, 2018

Tuesday's White House press briefing had some contentious moments, after President Trump uninvited the Philadelphia Eagles from a Super Bowl victory celebration over some NFL players' decisions to kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence.

Despite the fact that none of the Eagles participated in protests throughout the football season, Trump issued a statement condemning the whole team for "disagreeing with their president." While Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was defending Trump's decision, explaining the importance of respecting military members by saluting the flag, White House correspondent April Ryan cut in to point out the reason for the protests in the first place.

β€œIs the president aware that this is about police-involved shootings and not about disrespecting the flag?” asked Ryan. Sanders scolded Ryan for "rudely interrupting" and said she'd be "happy to answer if you would stop talking long enough to let me do that."

In the end, Sanders said nothing about the police shootings and disproportionate police force used against minorities that NFL players are protesting. Instead, she told Ryan that Trump was "not going to waver" on his view that everyone should stand for the anthem, no matter what. Watch the contentious exchange below, via CNN. Summer Meza

April 25, 2018

Audio of an October 2017 meeting between NFL owners, executives, and player leaders obtained by The New York Times reveals the conflict the league's management faced as President Trump ramped up his criticism of the national anthem protests last fall. "The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don't feel is in the best interests of America," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the room, despite his close relationship with the president. "It's divisive and it's horrible."

The players in the room "sounded aggravated" on the topic of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who initiated kneeling during the national anthem, and how he remains unsigned β€” a fact many believe is the result of collusion by the owners. Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long announced that "we all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster." The owners pushed back, with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair instructing the players to enforce no kneeling on their teams. "You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let's go out and do something that really produces positive results," he said, "and we'll help you."

Afterward, Kraft suggested a statement with the word "unified" or "unity," with the final product claiming the executives, owners, and players discussed plans "to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change." Read more about the tape obtained by The New York Times here. Jeva Lange

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