The ongoing U.S. presidential election has seen plenty of sports connections, from Ted Cruz’s “basketball ring” to the numerous former coaches endorsing Donald Trump and LeBron’s recent endorsement of Hilary Clinton. Now, Trump advisor and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn is getting into the act, criticizing ESPN for not airing a tribute to veterans that took place in the stands during Monday Night Football in a now deleted tweet:
The only problem? This tribute didn’t take place “this week,” as Flynn claimed, especially as this week’s game didn’t even involve the Green Bay Packers. (It was the New York Giants at the Minnesota Vikings and in a dome so this tweet makes even less sense.) According to Snopes, this photo, which has been circulating for years, is from a 2011 Veterans Day tribute in Green Bay. It starts with an e-mail from “Airman at Work,” saying “This is what ESPN failed to show you Monday night, 11/14/2011. Apparently, they thought their commercials were more important than showing this scene for about 5 seconds,” and then including a bunch of photos of the Thank You Veterans and Thank You Military displays in the stands.
Flynn is correct that ESPN did elect not to air it, though. They didn’t air this because it took place during the national anthem, which they haven’t typically shown (until the recent round of anthem protests, anyway). Here’s what they told Snopes as to why:
“We appreciate and applaud these entertainers for their hard work and talent, but exposure of them before games and at halftime can’t be guaranteed. Our pre-game and halftime features have proven to be very popular with our fans and they’ve come to depend on tuning into ESPN, The World’s Biggest Sports Fan, to catch up-to-date scores and sports news”
Some of not showing the anthem is about having more time for pre-game shows, yes, but it’s also about fitting in more commercials. It’s not just ESPN that acts that way; most networks didn’t televise anthems at NFL games until they became news thanks to the protests. But yes, General Flynn, ESPN did fail to televise this anthem ceremony; they just failed to do so five years ago, not Monday night, and likely to make more money. What a bunch of horrible capitalists they are.