Always About Them: CNN Panel Worships Ryan for Briefing Spat, Questions Patriotism of Standing for Anthem

If politicians are the most self-centered group of people in America, the news media is a close second. Whether it’s flaunting their mention in the First Amendment to suffering meltdowns, the news industry collectively puts forth a front that they’re above it all.

That pompousness was on display during the Tuesday edition of CNN’s The Situation Room as a segment hailed political analyst April Ryan for shouting at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over the national anthem protests by NFL players. Also in that segment, CNN Tonight host Don Lemon suggested that it was “fake patriotism” to simply believe in standing for the Star-Spangled Banner.

 

 

Host Wolf Blitzer showed the exchange in question from hours earlier and before he could even ask Ryan a question, Lemon interjected to state “amen, April” and pleaded for “more of that in the briefing room.”

Lemon continued his eye-rolling, gooey praise for Ryan:

April following up and getting an answer. I absolutely applaud you and I think all of the folks in the briefing room should do what April did. Challenge the podium and White House more cause they go from one reporter to the other one. They don't like the answer, they cut them off and they move on to the next person and, April, you didn't allow it. So, thank you for doing that. I'm sorry to interrupt. 

Ryan thanked Lemon and seemed to insinuate that there was a reason that Sanders wouldn’t call on her during the briefing (read: because of Ryan’s skin color).

“First of all, I mean, you know, we have been in that briefing room for many, many years, for decades and strategically, Sarah did not want to call on me today and I listened to her ask — call on people around me. In the back, in the front, but the issue was, the underlying issue, they never dealt with the issue of police-involved shootings,” Ryan observed.

The American Urban Radio Networks correspondent touted herself as having previously asked the President himself about police-involved shootings, but “everybody” (presumably her media colleagues) were “dancing around it and not hitting the issue.”

Later, Lemon had a chance to comment on the broader topic of NFL player protests and lambasted the President for not appearing to care about the First Amendment rights of all Americans and the decision to kneel during the national anthem.

The late-night CNN host next argued that standing for the national anthem alone was “fake patriotism” whereas “real patriotism” boiled down to forms of protest like kneeling and understanding one’s free speech rights (click “expand” to read more):

And this isn't about some fake patriotism, about standing or some pageantry. Real patriotism is understanding what the Constitution means for all Americans and abiding by the Constitution, not doing some false presentation that you pretend to be a patriot while other people are around you, going to the concession stands, getting beer or fights in the stands or talking to each other with their baseball caps on. That is not real patriotism. Real patriotism is understanding that all of us are created equal and we have the choice to stand, kneel or sit or even attend a football game if we choose to.

One can think whatever they want about the President and many have correctly noted the falsehoods of he and others pertaining this blowup with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, claiming that simply standing for the anthem (and, by extension, the flag) isn’t patriotic is embracing the same type of either or fallacy that he's denouncing the President for holding.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on June 5, click “expand.”

CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer
June 5, 2018
6:23 p.m. Eastern

DON LEMON: So, the President and the folks at the podium, Sarah Sanders, they have it all wrong. Sarah Sanders said today, Wolf, and April was there, she heard them say that's what makes this country great is because we stand during the national anthem. What makes this country great is that we have the choice to stand or not to stand during the national anthem. This is not a dictatorship. We don't have to do anything in this country. 

WOLF BLITZER: And you were there — April, you’re with us right now. April Ryan was at the White House briefing and you had a chance to ask Sarah Sanders a question, if the President understands why some of the players actually take a knee. Let me play the exchange you had with the White House Press Secretary. 

[EXCHANGE OF RYAN VS. SANDERS]

BLITZER: So, April —

LEMON: Amen, April. 

BLITZER: Yeah, I’m anxious to get your thoughts —

LEMON: More of that in the briefing room. April following up and getting an answer. I absolutely applaud you and I think all of the folks in the briefing room should do what April did. Challenge the podium and White House more cause they go from one reporter to the other one. They don't like the answer, they cut them off and they move on to the next person and, April, you didn't allow it. So, thank you for doing that. I'm sorry to interrupt. 

APRIL RYAN: Thank you, Don. Well, Wolf, you know, it was an interesting exchange. First of all, I mean, you know, we have been in that briefing room for many, many years, for decades and strategically, Sarah did not want to call on me today and I listened to her ask — call on people around me. In the back, in the front, but the issue was, the underlying issue, they never dealt with the issue of police-involved shootings. The reason why the NFL players — the reason why Colin Kaepernick began to take the knee during the Obama years and the reason why it ramped up is because this President found it to be something that his base would like. So, the bottom line — I asked this question of the President in October in the Rose Garden when he was standing next to Mitch McConnell. He said the same thing. He never answered the underlying issue about police-involved shootings. Now that the NFL is telling the players to stand — they have to stand, now what are you going to do with the underlying issue of police-involved shootings that have — the issue of the black community and police has been going on since slavery, since blacks — Africans were enslaved in this nation — brought in the bottom of ships. And now what are you going to do? Because it is now in the forefront. You have it on your cell — we see it on cellphones with the accountability piece. So, how do you turn a blind eye to the underlying issue when the groundswell is happening and when you are actually causing more of a groundswell to talk about this and you talk about all of America and that's the impetus for the question because everybody was dancing around it and not hitting the issue. 

BLITZER: And David Swerdlick, you know, the — CNN has learned from a source that the President and his political team, they think this is a winning issue for him, especially going into the midterm elections. 

DAVID SWERDLICK: They definitely do, Wolf. You have CNN's source. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that in a phone call between the president and Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, the President said this is a winning issue for me. There's no way that you, meaning the NFL, is going to win on this. Two polls have come out since the NFL announced their new kneeling staying in the locker room policy. The Yahoo News poll and the Huffington Post poll. Both of them, a plurality of those surveyed said they thought that it was inappropriate for players to kneel during the anthem. That's something the White House is going off of and in that Huffington Post poll, of the people who said that kneeling was inappropriate, they found 92 percent of those who voted for Trump thought it was inappropriate, which suggests that they are playing directly to their base. 

BLITZER: I’m anxious, Don. Where — where is this heading? 

LEMON: I think it's heading into November and I think the President realizes his base — this is something that exercises his — that’s animates his base and he’s going to continue on with it. He cannot — he cannot be a unifier. He cannot be the unifier in chief. I don't know what it is about him that he can't do it. It seems that this is an issue where he could actually bring the country together, bring the team and talk to team owners and players and try to get them to come to some sort of consensus about this. But again, if the President cares about Americans' First Amendment rights and his own First Amendment rights and the rights of his — the people who support him, then he should care about the First Amendment rights of those people who have chosen to kneel during the national anthem. And this isn't about some fake patriotism, about standing or some pageantry. Real patriotism is understanding what the Constitution means for all Americans and abiding by the Constitution, not doing some false presentation that you pretend to be a patriot while other people are around you, going to the concession stands, getting beer or fights in the stands or talking to each other with their baseball caps on. That is not real patriotism. Real patriotism is understanding that all of us are created equal and we have the choice to stand, kneel or sit or even attend a football game if we choose to. 

NB Daily Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Sports CNN The Situation Room Video Government & Press White House Press Briefing NFL Wolf Blitzer Don Lemon April Ryan Donald Trump Sarah Huckabee Sanders
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