MSNBC host Ed Schultz went after rival network Fox News on Tuesday afternoon for being outraged over the St. Louis Rams players’ use of a “hands up” gesture this weekend while supporting Christian athletes’ right to make religious gestures on-field.
During pre-game festivities on Sunday, five Rams players raised their hands in the air upon entering the field, a show of solidarity with the community of Ferguson, Mo., which is currently embroiled in controversy over the non-indictment of a now-ex-police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown back in August. A local police representative called for the NFL or the Rams to punish the players, but the team has yet to do so.
“Let’s just imagine for a moment if the Rams did discipline these players,” Schultz said Tuesday, “do you know what kind of backlash that would [create]?” The MSNBC host suggested there will be similar on-field protests, because this demonstration is primarily about free speech.
Naturally, Schultz added, not everyone agrees with the league’s decision not to punish the players. Enter Fox’s Greta Van Susteren:
Look, of course NFL players have a right to express themselves. They could do it on a news show, or write an op-ed, or post on Facebook, or even fire off a tweet — any place and any time but not during an NFL game. That’s the one time families gather in the stands and around televisions just to have fun…. Why ruin football with politics and controversy? It’s just a game.
Schultz hit back hard, snarking that “These Rams players are supporting their community and expressing free speech — something the free speech experts over on Fox should know all about.”
The Ed Show host continued to take aim at Fox: “It would seem to me that people in the television business — who have a platform and who are into promotion and into brand promoting — they understand that it is good to do things when you have everybody’s attention. When these players are coming out on the field, people are paying attention. When they do this [hand’s up], people take notice. That’s the platform they chose. They have every right to do that.”
Schultz then pointed out an example of a pro football player expressing his beliefs on-field, but being staunchly defended by Fox News.
“I remember, I think this guy’s name was Tim Tebow,” the host said. “He used to love to show his faith every time he scored a touchdown or did something right, took a little criticism from some folks, and who was there to defend him? Fox News.”
He concluded: “Oh, yes, they just couldn’t believe Tim Tebow was getting any kind of criticism for showing support for his faith. That was an expression. But, you know what, I guess we’ve got to keep these expressions in football separate these days.”
Watch below, via MSNBC:
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