The Trump administration has created — and begun circulating — a petition railing against ESPN's national anthem policy.
What's the policy?
On Sunday, the sports network announced that it will not broadcast the national anthem during "Monday Night Football" — a policy that isn't really all that new.
“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think that will change this year," ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. "Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem. Again, that could change. It’s unpredictable what could happen in the world but as of now, we’re not. We have communicated that back to the NFL. They have not asked but as courtesy and good partners we have let them know what our plans are.”
The first preseason "Monday Night Football" game aired Sunday. In the second week of the preseason, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson was the only NFL player who kneeled during the anthem. The previous week, Wilson and Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills kneeled.
In May, the NFL came to a conclusion on how players should conduct themselves during the playing of the national anthem. The policy banned kneeling during the national anthem, and permitted players to remain in the locker room for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" if they chose to do so. Those on the field would be subject to fines if they violated the policy.
By July, the NFL had shelved the punishment policy after many NFL players said that they'd simply take the fine and continue protesting during the national anthem.
What's this about a petition?
Trump attacked ESPN's statement on the matter during a rally Tuesday in West Virginia.
“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 the crowd 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.”
On Wednesday, the Trump administration sent out an email to supporters who signed up to receive such communications.
The email revealed that Trump is quite unhappy with ESPN as a result of its stance on the national anthem — hence the petition.
The email states:
Just after we heard a sitting governor trash America, ESPN has now decided it will no longer play the National Anthem before Monday Night Football.
If "America" is too offensive for anyone in our country, then what are they doing in America?
I'm calling on you to join me in denouncing the SPINELESS surrender to the politically correct liberal mob.
I was the first person to sign this petition. Now I need you to follow my lead and be the second.
You can see a copy of the email below.
The NFL anthem issue is getting the attention of @realDonaldTrump. The President says he’s starting petition telling ESPN to rescind decision about not playing national anthem before MonNightFootball @WKRN pic.twitter.com/QmpsFgsLwV
— Chris Bundgaard (@bundgaard2) August 22, 2018