‘Morning Joe’ Meltdown Over Trump and NFL
Scarborough, Brzezinski accuse president of 'race-baiting' and championing 'political tribalism' by demanding respect for anthem
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel trashed President Donald Trump Monday for criticizing National Football League players who kneel during the national anthem as a sign of protest, accusing the president of “race-baiting” and engaging in “political tribalism.”
Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, regular hyperbolic critics of the president, followed their typical pattern of righteous outrage Monday.
The president initially unleashed his fury at football players who choose to protest against racial injustice by kneeling while the national anthem is played Friday at a rally in Alabama.
"So Donald Trump's political career can neatly be summed up by this weekend's torrent of inane, offensive, and at times dangerous tweets that were aimed at the NFL, the [National Basketball Association] and a nuclear North Korea," Scarborough said Monday.
In addition to targeting kneeling football players, Trump chose to disinvite Golden State Warriors guard and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry from the White House Saturday after Curry told reporters Friday he did not plan on accepting the invitation along with the rest of his team.
But the "Morning Joe" co-hosts maintained that the president, by criticizing the form of protest employed by black sports stars, was purposely fomenting racial unrest.
"I mean, the president is putting this country in a horrible place," Brzezinski said. "And if you have any question in your mind as to whether or not he is race-baiting at a certain point in time, think of Charlottesville. It will give you some clarity."
Trump received widespread criticism in the wake of the deadly race-fueled rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12 for his three separate responses. Although the president explicitly condemned the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists in his second statement, his decision to blame "both sides" for the violence "on many sides" in the other two responses wasn't well-received by the Left and the mainstream media.
"[Trump] understands the worst of America. He doesn't understand the best of America," Scarborough alleged. "But he certainly does understand how to bait people, whether it's race-baiting or political baiting or whatever baiting."
"Trump the vulgarian throws rhetorical red meat at his crowd. His base explodes in delight. His foes explode in fury. And both sides feed directly to the president's crude plan to launch a mini culture war," Scarborough continued.
Scarborough also went so far as to condemn Trump's administration officials and Cabinet members for "humiliating themselves" by defending Trump's national anthem kneeling criticism and the president's request for patriotic behavior.
"The most grotesque part of this is, Donald Trump has now been equated with the American flag. So, a protest against the American flag is now — yesterday was a protest against Donald Trump," Scarborough said. "Think about the men and the women who fought and gave their all in Vietnam, what they're thinking about that today."
"Now make no mistake, whether you love him or whether you hate him, Donald Trump thrives on this sort of political tribalism," Scarborough added. "His attacks against sports figures are going on while health care reform is hanging in the balance, about to die."
MSNBC's Willie Geist also weighed in on the weekend's controversy, saying, "There's a real and serious and passionate debate in this country where the president has some support on players protesting during the national anthem. And that debate, the president has support."
"But when he escalates it to attacking Steph Curry, when he escalates it to impugning people in the league who are expressing their First Amendment rights, it's not what presidents normally do," Geist added. "And it leads the country in a horrible place. It put politics into sports in a way that isn't good for anyone. And he does know exactly what he's doing."
For his own part, the president refused to back down and revived the ongoing controversy in a series of tweets Monday morning.
"So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag — they said it loud and clear!" Trump tweeted. "Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag! ... The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!"
In another tweet on the same topic, Trump simply tweeted out the hashtag #StandForOurAnthem."