ABC, NBC Deride Pence Walking Out of NFL Game As 'Stunt'

On Sunday evening, ABC's World News Tonight and the NBC Nightly News both reacted to Vice President Mike Pence walking out of an NFL game in Indianapolis by dismissing his reaction as a "stunt," with ABC fretting that he was "reigniting the fury." 

It did not seem to occur to either network that, when several of the '49ers players sparked the move by kneeling during the National Anthem, this display could also be called a "stunt." Preempted by a game, the CBS Evening News did not air.

 

 

Introducing the ABC report, anchor Tom Llamas intoned:

Now to a stunning move at an NFL game. Vice President Mike Pence staging a protest of his own. The Vice President -- attending the Colts/'49ers game today with his wife -- walking out when the '49ers took a knee during the National Anthem. And it was all at the direction of President Trump.

Correspondent Ron Claiborne began the piece by fretting that Pence was "reigniting the fury over the flag" as he recalled that the Vice President had flown from Las Vegas to Indianapolis for the game.

After recounting that, after several of the players kneeled for the Anthem, Pence left after the Anthem finished and then tweeted out his reasons, Claiborne added:

Pence's protest appeared planned. Reporters were warned that he could leave the game early. Some '49ers were likely to kneel as their former quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, had started the protests last season. And a number of players have picked it up. President Trump tweeting today: "I asked VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country."

The report continued:

RON CLAIBORNE: It was Trump who fanned the flames in a rally in Alabama last month.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: -- when somebody disrespects our Flag, to say, "Get that son of a (censored) off the field."

After informing viewers of an erroneous report that Colin Kaepernick was willing to stand for the Anthem if he were selected for a team, Claiborne concluded his report by quoting a Democratic congressman dismissing Pence's behavior as a "stunt." Claiborne:

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And tonight, one Democrat -- California Congressman Adam Schiff -- questioning the Vice President's travel all the way from Vegas to Indianapolis only to leave that game early. Schiff saying, "How much in taxpayer money was wasted on this stunt?"

On NBC, setting up a report, anchor Kate Snow fretted over the "divisive issue" as she related:

And another divisive issue involving the Trump administration played out today, this one at the Colts/'49ers game in Indianapolis. Vice President Mike Pence walked out of that game after more than a dozen players from the '49ers kneeled during the National Anthem.

After reporter Morgan Radford began her piece by recalling that Pence walked out because of the players who kneeled, she then cut to a soundbite of an unidentified man who reacted negatively to the Vice President: "Makes no sense to me. It is ridiculous what he did. It just doesn't make sense. He doesn't have any reason to do that."

After quoting from Pence's tweet, she then recalled complaints that the walkout was "planned" as she added:

The protests, a divisive issue for millions of Americans, have created political momentum for the Trump administration, which has been using the controversy to woo donors for weeks. A question for some: whether today's walkout was planned.

Radford then quoted Trump's tweet on the matter and showed a soundbite from Republican strategist Joe Watkins complaining: "I think that sending the Vice President to the game was a pre-planned stunt, but I don't think Americans like stunts."

It did not seem to occur to either ABC or NBC that Pence, being a native of Indiana, perhaps has a tradition of attending games in his home state, and did not wish to merely give up on going because of the possibility of provocative actions by some players before they had actually occurred.

Complete transcripts follow from Sunday, October 8:

#From ABC's World News Tonight:

TOM LLAMAS: Now to a stunning move at an NFL game. Vice President Mike Pence staging a protest of his own. The Vice President -- attending the Colts/'49ers game today with his wife -- walking out when the '49ers took a knee during the National Anthem. And it was all at the direction of President Trump. Here's ABC's Ron Claiborne.

RON CLAIBORNE: Tonight, the Vice President reigniting the fury over the Flag. Flying to Indianapolis from Las Vegas, Vice President Mike Pence stood with hand over heart as the National Anthem was played before today's Colts/San Francisco 49ers game. On the field, several '49ers players took a knee -- and with that, Pence abruptly left the stadium back to the airport, and flew back to the West Coast, minutes later tweeting: "I left today's Colts game because POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem."

Pence's protest appeared planned. Reporters were warned that he could leave the game early. Some '49ers were likely to kneel as their former quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, had started the protests last season. And a number of players have picked it up. President Trump tweeting today: "I asked VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country."

It was Trump who fanned the flames in a rally in Alabama last month.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: -- when somebody disrespects our Flag, to say, "Get that son of a (censored) off the field."

CLAIBORNE: The debate further roiled today by a report that Kaepernick -- an unsigned free agent -- said he would stand during the National Anthem if he were picked up by any NFL team. Not true, says Kaepernick. "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," he tweeted, quoting Winston Churchill.

And tonight, one Democrat -- California Congressman Adam Schiff -- questioning the Vice President's travel all the way from Vegas to Indianapolis only to leave that game early. Schiff saying, "How much in taxpayer money was wasted on this stunt?" Tom?
 
#From the NBC Nightly News:

KATE SNOW: And another divisive issue involving the Trump administration played out today, this one at the Colts/'49ers game in Indianapolis. Vice President Mike Pence walked out of that game after more than a dozen players from the '49ers kneeled during the National Anthem. NBC's Morgan Radford has more on that tonight.

MORGAN RADFORD: Vice President Mike Pence greeted fans in Indianapolis - the Colts facing off against the '49ers. When the Anthem played, more than a dozen players took a knee. Pence stood with his hand over his heart and left as soon as The Star-Spangled Banner ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Makes no sense to me. It is ridiculous what he did. It just doesn't make sense. He doesn't have any reason to do that.

MORGAN: The Vice President tweeted moments later: "I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem." The protests, a divisive issue for millions of Americans, have created political momentum for the Trump administration, which has been using the controversy to woo donors for weeks. A question for some: whether today's walkout was planned. The President afterward tweeting: "I asked VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled."

JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that sending the Vice President to the game was a pre-planned stunt, but I don't think Americans like stunts.

MORGAN: Pence's next stop after the game, a fundraiser in California. Morgan Radford, NBC News, New York.


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CyberAlerts Race Issues Sports ABC World News Tonight NBC NBC Nightly News Video NFL Ron Claiborne Tom Llamas Kate Snow Donald Trump Mike Pence Adam Schiff