ESPN sportswriter Jemele Hill claimed Sunday morning that President Trump often uses “racial pornography” to fire up his base.
Ms. Hill made the remark to MSNBC host Al Sharpton on “PoliticsNation” when asked what she thought about President Trump’s national anthem comments during his State of the Union address last week.
Mr. Trump was honoring 12-year-old Preston Sharp, who started a campaign to place flags and flowers on veterans’ headstones across the country, as a reminder why Americans “salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”
Mr. Sharpton said Mr. Trump was taking a “shot” at national anthem kneelers.
“How did you feel when you heard the president in a State of the Union address still take a shot at people that are standing up about injustices?” the MSNBC host asked.
Ms. Hill said Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was typical and that he and his supporters value ceremony more than understanding what the protesting football players are actually standing for.
“I wasn’t surprised and I think this is going to be probably a constant thing for the president because it’s a very easy dog whistle, it’s low-hanging fruit, it’s what I like to call ‘racial pornography,’ because it’s a way to stoke his base,” she said.
“In a weird way I think it’s kind of weirdly brilliant, because he has been able to hijack the entire conversation and to make this about patriotism,” she added. “And really, if anybody knew even the smallest bit of American history, they would understand that what the players have chosen to do is the most patriotic thing that you could.”
Ms. Hill said former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the anthem protest movement, began kneeling because he didn’t believe the country was living up to the ideals that military members were fighting to protect.
“I think because there is a lot of misinformation, a lot of people, frankly, just aren’t interested enough or care enough about the things that are important to Colin Kaepernick and to the players protesting,” Ms. Hill argued. “It’s been easy for them to latch onto ceremony as opposed to understanding what this cause is really about.”
Ms. Hill, a former “SportsCenter” co-host, is a fierce critic of Mr. Trump and was rebuked by the White House in September for a tweetstorm calling the president and his supporters “white supremacists.”
ESPN issued a statement at the time calling Ms. Hill’s actions “inappropriate” and said her comments did “not represent the position of ESPN.” Ms. Hill stood by her criticism but apologized for bringing negative attention to ESPN.
Ms. Hill was recently reassigned from her position on “SportCenter” to serve as an on-air commentator and writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated website. She has said the move was made at her own request.
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