The National Football League (NFL) season is entering its fifth week, and NFL players are still disrespecting our national anthem. Last week, 11 players knelt or sat during the anthem, while many more took knees beforehand. President Trump has also made news by weighing in on the matter, calling for players who protest to be fired.
The anthem hoopla has been music to the ears of the liberal media, which is all too eager to leverage the outrage of the day against President Trump. One CNN headline reads: “The dark racial sentiment in Trump’s NBA and NFL criticism.” Another suggests, “Trump tried to divide [the] NFL and its players.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times’s editorial board praised “the real patriots” for protesting the anthem, criticizing the president’s alleged lack of “concern for the legitimate and deeply felt fears and grievances of minority Americans.”
Liberal talking points were compounded by an all-too-familiar misrepresentation of the facts. Describing her network’s poll on the anthem protests, CNN’s polling director wrote that “Americans [are] split on anthem protests.” But the actual survey shows a majority of Americans agree with President Trump, saying that “protesting players are doing the wrong thing.”
The increasingly left-leaning ESPN had the following take: “ESPN survey shows Americans interested, divided on NFL protests.” The actual survey showed 51 percent of Americans oppose the protests, while only 39 percent support them.
CBS’s headline was even more egregious: “Democrats, Republicans divide over NFL protests.” Yet their poll revealed that Americans across the political aisle disapprove of the protests by a 14 percent margin.
Rather than noting President Trump’s popular position on the national anthem — which would contradict their anti-Trump narrative — supposedly objective reporters opted for misleading headlines and biased analysis.
Then, in an ironic twist, came the liberal media’s outpouring of support for free speech. One pro-protest Washington Post reporter reiterated that free speech is “guaranteed by the First Amendment.” CNN’s editor-at-large argued “free speech…is not something that you only get at certain times.”
Numerous op-ed columns praised unabridged speech as “a core First Amendment principle,” all in an attempt to legitimize the anthem protestors and their agenda.
Of course, the media is right. Free speech lies at the heart of the First Amendment and the core of America itself. We the people have the best deal in the world with free speech. But in today’s political climate, our freedom to express ourselves — whether doing so is popular or not — must be protected at all costs.
Even though I disagree with the anthem protesters, they have every right to speak out as Americans. In the words of Beatrice Evelyn Hall: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Again, it is the speech we don’t like that must be protected — especially the speech that the government itself doesn’t like.
But, in that case, where’s the same media outrage when conservative speakers are banned from college campuses? Where was CNN’s outrage when the University of California, Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week” was recently cancelled? Where is the Washington Post’s outrage against antifa, which is violently suppressing free speech nationwide?
If the First Amendment is indeed so integral to our constitutional republic, then we must defend it at all times — not just when it’s convenient. Unfortunately, the liberal media will continue applying a double standard to speech with which they disagree, extolling the virtues of the First Amendment when that speech is agreeable to them and only then.
The recent anthem protests have only exposed the politically infused news coverage that gave birth to the “fake news” moniker and undermined trust in our media. According to Gallup, less than one-third of Americans trust the press to do its job.
Unless the news industry ditches its anti-Trump sensationalism for objective reporting, that number will only continue to fall.