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Fox & Friends Guest Claims That NFL Debate Ignores Race — and That’s Why Trump is Winning It

Fox & Friends interviewed Dan Bongino, a former NYPD officer and now regular guest, on the show Thursday morning to pump some air into their breathless coverage of President Donald Trump’s culture war with the NFL.

And Bongino made a novel — and revealing — argument against the NFL protests during his Fox News appearance. He began:

I don’t think anybody’s going to question the country has a scarred history with race. That’s obvious, from slavery to Jim Crow. And that’s a conversation we should all have. People should never be judged by the melanin component of their skin, that’s clear as day.

Now, that should be obvious to anyone who has taken the time to listen to the protesting NFL players, but is rarely pointed out on Fox News: that kneeling during the Anthem was originally intended as a respectful protest to draw attention to uncomfortable conversations about race. And that very intent has now been lost amidst a loud shouting match over rights to free speech and NFL regulations.

As noted on this site, elsewhere, and by the football players protesting, kneeling during the anthem is not about free speech. It is not about protesting the flag, protesting the military, or protesting Donald Trump — something you may not know if you drink your morning coffee in the company Fox & Friends.

The protests are, and have always been, a respectful means of drawing attention to police brutality that disproportionately affects people of color; a conversation Bongino claims to be willing to have.

He continued:

The problem I have with this protest is: it’s done the exact opposite. Nobody’s talking about race right now. People are talking about disrespecting the American flag.

Crucially, Bongino reveals in his comments that like Fox & Friends, he hasn’t been listening to the NFL players either.

Eric Reid of the 49ers, who joined Colin Kaepernick for last season’s protest, has repeatedly stressed this week that kneeling is not a means of expressing anti-American sentiment — it is a respectful way of protesting injustice. And Reid is not alone: a number of football players have ignored the shouting match this week to continue to speak about the difficult relationship between people of color and American law enforcement.

So when Bongino says that “nobody’s talking about race,” who is he referring to? Well, Trump and his proud lackeys at Fox & Friends, to name a few.

The president, with help from Fox News, has successfully co-opted a protest against police brutality and shamefully contorted it to fit a patriot-versus-ingrate narrative that pits his white, working class base against wealthy, black athletes. It works for Trump, who now has a fiery talking point for his rallies, as well as for Fox News, sure to ride this culture war to a morning ratings boon. (The network adores a good war on the flag.)

And in case you thought Fox & Friends would have a modicum of shame about their remarkably cynical efforts to thwart a productive conversation about race in favor of waging a culture war, enter co-host Steve Doocy:

“Ultimately, doesn’t that mean the president is winning this argument?” Doocy asked Bongino.

Bongino replied that Trump was playing “4-D chess” with his continued comments deriding the protests as anti-American, concluding: “This was a genius move.”

Watch above, via Fox News.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Aidan McLaughlin (@aidnmclaughlin) on Twitter

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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