CNN’s Brian Stelter criticized President Donald Trump’s attacks on the NFL, national anthem protesters, and NBA stars as “racial.”
“All of this has a racial component we can’t ignore,” Stelter told his colleague Fredricka Whitfield on CNN Saturday afternoon.
During a campaign event for Alabama Senator Luther Strange Friday night, Trump slammed the NFL for tolerating players who he said disrespect the United States by failing to stand up for the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said. “You know, some owner is gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Trump followed up on his criticism of athletes on Saturday morning by taking aim at Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry for “hesitating” to visit the White House.
Stelter wanted to remind the CNN audience that the president has been called “a white supremacist” and that the criticisms of athletes were aimed at black athletes.
“Then on Twitter, after apparently watching ‘Fox & Friends,’ he reacts to the Steph Curry news. This is a president who has been called a ‘white supremacist’ by people like ESPN’s Jemele Hill, reacting to almost entirely a black athlete controversy with these anthem protests. It’s been almost entirely black football players who have been kneeling. And of course, with Steph Curry, LeBron James — these NBA stars who are African American, speaking out against the president,” the “Reliable Sources” host said.
Stelter went on to quote Kobe Bryant’s tweet.
“So here we are, sports as a battleground in the culture wars. I think the big picture here is that President Trump, the Trump presidency ‘a test’ for the news media, for the courts, for the business community, for almost every institution. And that now includes the NFL and the NBA, but specifically black athletes.”
Stelter’s example of the president not criticizing white athletes was Tom Brady for not going to the White House.
“Let’s keep in mind, he didn’t criticize Tom Brady when he didn’t come to the White House after the Patriots,” he said.
The New England Patriots quarterback told the show “Extra” in May that he didn’t skip the White House over politics but went to spend time with his mother Galynn who was battling cancer.
During the CNN segment, Stelter emphasized three times how “white” the rally crowd was in Alabama.
Stelter followed up an hour later on CNN pondering the racism of the president.
“We’re asking these questions and we’re asking big questions. Why is it that the president is perceived to be a racist by so many Americans? And if he is perceived that way — which he is — then why does he lean into it by attacking African-American athletes like this — whether it is Steph Curry or Colin Kaepernick,” he said.
The president doubled down on his criticism of various athletes on Saturday afternoon.