President Trump sent out an email Wednesday asking supporters to sign a petition to urge ESPN to televise the national anthem during “Monday Night Football” broadcasts.
“I’m calling on you to join me in denouncing this SPINELESS surrender to the politically correct liberal mob,” Trump stated in the email, which was signed by him and sent out by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.
The email was sent the day after Trump brought up the topic while speaking at a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night.
“You’re proud of our country, you’re proud of our history, and unlike the NFL, you always honor and cherish our great American flag,” Trump told the crowd of supporters who gathered in Charleston.
“It was just announced by ESPN that rather than defending our anthem, our beautiful, beautiful national anthem, and defending our flag, they’ve decided that they just won’t broadcast when they play the national anthem. We don’t like that.”
Trump: "It was just announced by ESPN that rather than defending our anthem, our beautiful beautiful beautiful national anthem, and defending our flag, they've decided they they just won't broadcast when they play the national anthem. We don't like that." pic.twitter.com/HWsVr6j5jT— Contemptor (@TheContemptor) August 21, 2018
After the crowd booed to show its displeasure for the ESPN policy, Trump continued:
“So while the players are kneeling, some of them, not all of them at all, you’re all proudly standing for our national anthem,” he told the now-cheering rally participants.
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro told reporters Friday: “We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think that will change this year. Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem.
“Again that could change. It’s unpredictable what could happen in the world but as of now, we’re not. We have communicated that back to the NFL. They have not asked but as [a] courtesy and good partners we have let them know what our plans are.”
Last year, ESPN decided to air the anthem during “Monday Night Football” on three occasions — the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the day after the deadly shootings in Las Vegas and the first Monday after Trump began publicly criticizing players who protested during the anthem.
According to USA Today, CBS doesn’t plan on showing the anthem during its regular NFL broadcasts, Fox only plans on doing it on special occasions, and NBC has yet to determine how to handle the matter this season.
This isn’t the first time Trump has criticized ESPN. Last fall, he demanded an apology from the network after then-SportsCenter host Jemele Hill tweeted that the president is a “white supremacist” and a “bigot.” He also took the opportunity to needle ESPN about its declining ratings.
Aug. 23, 7:55 a.m.: This article was updated with information about Trump’s email to his supporters. More background information also was added.
This article was originally published Aug. 22 at 8 a.m.