On Tuesday's Deadline: White House, MSNBC Republicans Nicolle Wallace and Elise Jordan were leaning left on the issue of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem as they fretted over the NFL caving in to President Donald Trump's complaints on the issue.
Wallace also delivered the liberal spin that kneeling should actually be considered respectful, even though original kneeler Colin Kaepernick made clear that he was holding his anti-police views against the U.S. as a whole. And Jordan complained that Vice President Mike Pence was being "insidious" by walking out on an NFL game in protest of the kneeling.
At 4:50 p.m. ET, after host Wallace wondered if Trump is "winning this debate," Jordan complained that the President was not "morally in the right" on the issue as she lamented that he had won:
Absolutely. And one of my good friends, a political operative, his classic line that he loves to use is talking about the difference in winning and being right. And in politics, winning matters more. Donald Trump is certainly winning. He may not be morally in the right place about this, in my opinion, but he's won the issue and he could -- it would actually be better for him if this continued for an entire football season and he had it to fall back on when he doesn't want to engage in real policy discussion failures.
Turning to Jonathan Lemore of the Associated Press, Wallace agreed with Jordan's views: "Jonathan, a source at the NFL said that Donald Trump -- while I don't disagree with Elise's analysis -- might we winning, he is not making it easier on the NFL."
Moments later, the MSNBC host defended the kneeling:
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And for every player that takes a kneel -- that kneels during the Anthem -- which in religious settings is not a sign of disrespect at all -- they are the voice -- they largely see themselves as voices for the voiceless. I cannot imagine the League going against the players.
But in August 2016, after Kaepernick was criticized for sitting during the National Anthem, he was quoted as explaining: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
MSNBC contributor Richard Stengel added:
And, by the way, the Flag stands for free expression. There's no worshiping of our Flag. The Flag is symbolic of these things. These are African-American athletes that are standing up for free speech. That's what it's all about.
Jordan then complained that the message of the protest had been "twisted" and "distorted" as she jumped in:
The messaging battle has been lost. That was what the original protest was about. It was Colin Kaepernick protesting police brutality. It is no longer -- it has been twisted into a statement of protest against he Flag, protest against the troops, and completely distorted.
Stengel further griped:
But that's been distorted by Trump. By the way, my last reading of the Constitution, I don't remember the National Anthem being in the Constitution. Did the Framers really want to protect the National Anthem and the Flag? I don't think so.
Wallace agreed: "Listen, I'm with you on this."
In the next segment, as the group discussed Vice President Pence walking out of the NFL game over the weekend, after AP's Lemire declared that "they wanted that fight," Wallace posed:
Is it more pathetic that Pence planned it all as a stunt and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money? Or is it more pathetic that the stunt was called in by its boss?
Taking aim at Pence, Jordan responded:
I think both are pretty equal. I mean, Mike Pence participating in this is just so insidious -- the kind of, you know, acting like he's so above it -- this walk that he's tried to pursue where he really is the sane, stable one, but then he just shows his true colors. He showed his true colors, and I really feel like that was a day where, you know, a football game but also a celebration of Peyton Manning. And if I'm a Colts fan, I would be pretty annoyed.
After Stengel argued that the media should spend their time discussing more important topics than the NFL, Jordan again leaned left as she sounded sympathetic to complaints by liberals about the criminal justice system: "This is important, too. This is about criminal justice reform. This is about (inaudible) justice in the country."
Wallace also bristled: "You think we should just let the President harass the NFL so the owners change the rule? So just let the NFL shut down the players' right to free speech?"