On Monday evening, President Trump announced he was disinviting the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles from coming to the White House thanks to their low turnout. It was obviously a case of “you can’t quit – you’re fired!” from the president. But what’s worse, Trump is lying about it.
Here was Trump’s statement:
The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the ceremony – one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem. I will be there at 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America.
This is largely nonsense from beginning to end. Not one player on the Super Bowl-winning Eagles team knelt for the anthem or stayed in the locker room the entire season. Not one. Many of them didn’t want to show up because they don’t like Trump personally or oppose his policies, but to suggest that they also oppose the anthem is sheer demagoguery.
Now, I agree with President Trump that people ought to stand for the national anthem. And I’ve long been opposed to White House visits for sports teams. I think they smack more of monarchism than democracy – it’s like visiting Buckingham Palace. And I also think that players who don’t want to go to the White House for such visits are perfectly within their rights. If Trump wanted to issue a blanket rule disinviting teams, I’d cheer that decision. But that’s not what’s happening here. He invited the Eagles; a bunch of them chose not to come, which is obviously their right; he lied about them. It’s that simple.
Fox News ran with a segment showing pictures of various Eagles kneeling – but they were actually kneeling in prayer:
That’s fake news.
The NFL Players Association responded this way:
It’s not clear why the Eagles cancellation should necessitate the cancellation of community events – the NFL has plenty of cash, and for the sake of public goodwill, should go forward with the events anyway.
In any case, Trump is acting childishly, and what’s worse, he’s actively perpetuating a divisive culture war for his own gain, even at the expense of the truth.