On Friday at ESPN’s Football Media Day, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said that the network won’t televise the national anthem on Monday Night Football.
“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.”
ESPN showed the national anthem during three NFL games last year, and historically hasn’t done it much (this is the same for other networks that show NFL games). The national anthem at NFL games is of course a big story over the last three years, and player protests have continued during this preseason.
President Donald Trump has frequently blasted NFL players for protests during the anthem.
And on Tuesday night during his rally in West Virginia, Trump blasted ESPN for their decision to not show the anthem.
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
“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.”
“The ESPN thing was terrible.”
By making the announcement on their decision to not show the anthem during Monday Night Football, ESPN likely wanted to “avoid getting trapped” in the anthem controversy as the New York Post put it last week. But it seems they may have just made themselves a Trump target instead.