A media watchdog says President Donald Donald Trump is being unfairly blamed for the controversy over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.
NFL veteran Colin Kaepernick ignited controversy during the 2016 season when he knelt as a protest against police brutality against blacks.
Last week, at a campaign rally in Alabama, Trump blasted NFL players who don't stand for "The Star Spangled Banner" and suggested, using a derogatory term for such players, that they should be fired by the team owners.
Curtis Houck of the Media Research Center says the media is making the take-a-knee issue about Trump himself.
"It has become about the president," he says. "Taking a knee is about the president. The national anthem is about the president."
Trump's comments, in fact, whipped up a storm of criticism from NFL players, coaches and owners, a controversy fanned by media reaction.
It appears that President Trump has now hijacked the NFL's take-a-knee protest, says Houck, and that suggests the current protests are disingenuous, since Barack Obama was president when Kaepernick took a knee last year.
"So suddenly this idea, as Josh Norman from the Redskins has said, that we're living under tyranny is just fake news," he says.
Reacting to claims that he's "preoccupied" with the NFL protests, Trump told reporters Tuesday that he is focused on hurricane recovery efforts in the Carribbean, which he discussed along with North Korea before taking questions that included the NFL controversy.
“They were fighting for our country, they were fighting for our flag, they were fighting for our national anthem,” Trump said, referring to injured soldiers he has visited at Walter Reed, Fox News reported.
"For people to disrespect that," he continued, "by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem I think is disgraceful.”