SBD/September 25, 2017/Media

Trump Takes On NFL: Every Pregame Dedicates Time To President's Comments

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CBS' "The NFL Today" opened with a seven-minute discussion on Trump’s comments
NFL pregame shows yesterday all addressed President Trump's comments from the weekend "in some form and gave legitimate time to the issue," marking a "very good week for a genre that too often feels like a bro-rally," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" opened its show with 22 minutes of Trump conversation, creating some "honest television and the best discussion of the issue" yesterday. The show began with a shot of the sidelines of the Ravens-Jaguars game in London that had already started, followed by cast intros and host Sam Ponder "introducing Trump’s 'son of a bitch' comment (with no bleeps) at an Alabama rally." NFL Network's pregame show "was also strong" covering the issue, with analyst Kurt Warner and host Rich Eisen "standing out." Fox "addressed the subject in the same manner as its competitors," beginning their show with a "quick preview of the upcoming Week 3 games before heading immediately into Trump’s comments (they did bleep the word 'bitch') and statements and tweets from NFL executives and players." They then went to NFL insider Jay Glazer to get a "sense of the tone around the league." CBS' "The NFL Today" had its traditional opening, "highlighting the CBS games of the week before an initial seven-minute discussion on Trump’s comments." That discussion "featured guest analyst Charles Barkley, who was the first to talk." A second segment that lasted nine minutes included "Face The Nation" host John Dickerson, an interview with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and thoughts from CBSSN's Amy Trask on "how NFL owners should be approaching Trump’s comments." NBC's "Football Night In America" focused on "post-game images from inside the locker room" (SI.com, 9/25). In Boston, Chad Finn writes the usual "backslapping jocularity was absent from all of the programs, at least in the first couple of segments." CBS was "especially thorough and interesting," as there is "no better studio anchor at navigating emotional topics than James Brown." Finn: "The NFL’s broadcast partners should be satisfied with how it addressed and covered the situation. There were pointed and passionate comments across all networks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/25).

WHAT THEY SAID: ESPN's Rex Ryan yesterday said that he "regretted supporting Trump following the President’s comments." He said, "I supported Donald Trump. When he asked me to introduce him at a rally in Buffalo, I did that. But I am reading these comments and it is appalling to me. And I am sure it is appalling to almost any citizen in our country. It should be. ... I am associated with what Donald Trump stands for because I introduced him. I never signed up for that. I never wanted that" (SI.com, 9/25). NBC's Cris Collinsworth said Trump "should apologize" for his comments. Collinsworth: "They're not SOBs. They’re smart, thoughtful guys. They have seen things that are unimaginable in some cases and they want exactly what the President wants, they want a better America" ("Football Night In America," NBC, 9/24). Fox' Terry Bradshaw said that while he "didn't condone the anthem protests, he believed that it isn't the president's place to chastise any American for exercising his or her right to free speech." Bradshaw: "This is America. If our country stands for anything, folks, it's freedom. People died for that freedom. I'm not sure if our president understands those rights" (ADAGE.com, 9/24). NFL Network's Eisen: "Offensive speech should not be tolerated in this country and offensive behavior that tears down the fabric of this country like we saw in Charlottesville should be called out. What is going on on the field in the National Football League is not that" ("NFL GameDay Morning," NFL Network, 9/24).

SHOWING THE ANTHEM: CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said that he and other members of his team "spoke for an hour and a half Saturday night and decided to show the anthem live in all markets and to give the controversy two segments on the pregame show." McManus said there was an "‘aha’ moment" about airing the anthems, and the pregame show “was more of a news show than a sports show." USA TODAY's Erik Brady notes the show "told viewers the anthem was coming up next, though such star-spangled promotion is something more associated with Super Bowls in February than regular-season games in September." Fox cameras "panned the sidelines as the anthems played in stadiums across the land." The net at halftime of the 1:00pm ET games offered a quick roundup of the anthem action around the league before Curt Menefee said: "And then they played football" (USA TODAY, 9/25). ESPN will carry the anthem live during tonight’s “MNF” game, something it does not do every week. It also has plans to carry the NFL’s “Inside These Lines” ad during the telecast (John Ourand, Staff Writer).

MEDIA MONITOR: All three network morning shows today teased the NFL protests in their opening segments and then led their broadcasts with reports on the issue. ABC’s "GMA" teased the opening with the headline “Show of Solidarity,” while NBC's "Today" went with the header, "The President vs. the Players” and "CBS This Morning" featured “President vs. NFL.” ABC's Gio Benitez broadcast live outside of FedExField, with additional commentary from the net's Cecilia Vega and Matthew Dowd, along with and Ravens TE Benjamin Watson. NBC aired a live report from the net's Craig Melvin from MetLife Stadium, with Tony Dungy appearing live in-studio later in the broadcast. CBS featured live reports from DeMarco Morgan outside MetLife Stadium and CBS’ Major Garrett from the White House. "The NFL Today's" Brown later also appeared live to offer his thoughts. Last night’s edition of ABC’s “World News” and NBC’s “Nightly News” both teased the protests in the opening and led their broadcasts with reports on the issue. CBS’ “Evening News” was preempted for NFL coverage (THE DAILY).
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