- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2017

“Are football fans voting with their TVs?” asks a new Rasmussen Reports survey. “As the NFL struggles to explain this season’s downturn in viewer ratings, 34 percent of American adults say they are less likely to watch an NFL game because of the growing number of protests by players on the field,” the poll reports, noting that 12 percent say they are more likely to watch, while half say the protests have no effect on their viewing decisions.

“Interestingly, there’s little difference of opinion on the protests and NFL viewing habits among whites, blacks and other minority adults,” the poll said.

“These numbers are little changed from October of last year after Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, initiated the protests, citing racial and police brutality issues.”

The “take a knee” phenomenon now spans politics, sports, sociology, entertainment, media, faith and even economics. Professional athletes kneeling to protest the “Star Spangled Banner” to draw attention to police brutality and racism has become a cultural force — fueled by nonstop news coverage of President Trump‘s public condemnation of the practice. Complaints are emerging, however. Some analysts say the press is fixated on the collision between the White House and the sports world — and virtually nothing else. A few critics blame Mr. Trump for inspiring this one-track narrative. One analyst, however, faults the journalists.

“The media’s obsession with Trump and the eyeballs his feuds and bombastic tweets bring to their stations and publications are to blame. The media has a choice in what they cover. The hand-wringing over what stories get attention is an ongoing point of contention for journalists and news outlets. Trump acts and the media reacts, rather than reports,” writes RedState political correspondent Andrea Ruth.

“When Trump is on offense, the media is reflexively defensive and scandalized. And to some extent, vice versa, reminiscent of a football game. Politics is a spectator sport and with Trump, the media is the other team. The media still has not realized that Trump is Trump. Trump isn’t going to stop being Trump-y. The media can cover whatever stories it wants. But, blaming Trump for their inability to stop or tone down their obsession with the man, and continually freak-out, is ridiculous,” Ms. Ruth says, even as the story takes on new dimensions.

Evangelist Franklin Graham and Mike Huckabee both suggest that those who “take a knee” should do so in prayer. Some say the act is a First Amendment right. Tweets from the American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, advised Americans not to confuse the practice with “disrespect” — and that U.S. military troops “fight for freedom, for the principles of racial equality and justice, not for a song, or a flag.” On Twitter itself, hashtags #takeaknee and #taketheknee battled to dominate the list of trending topics.


Former President Bill Clinton‘s first novel, “The President is Missing,” will be published nine months from now by Alfred A. Knopf and Little, Brown and Company. The book has been co-written with best-selling thriller author James Patterson, the man behind the Alex Cross detective novels, among many other titles. The new project is on a very fast track.

Showtime has already picked up the rights for the forthcoming book and plans to turn the “one-of-a-kind” tale into a series.

“Bringing ‘The President Is Missing’ to Showtime is a coup of the highest order,” says Davis Nevins, president and CEO of the network. “The pairing of President Clinton with fiction’s most gripping storyteller promises a kinetic experience, one that the book world has salivated over for months and that now will dovetail perfectly into a politically relevant, character-based action series for our network.”

Well, there you go.

“I can’t wait to see Showtime bring the characters to life,” observes Mr. Clinton.


A programming note for Monday: Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity presents the first cable exclusive interview with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon at 9 p.m. EDT.

“Bannon will be live from Alabama to discuss the Alabama Senate race between former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore and Alabama Senator Luther Strange, what’s ahead for the Trump administration and his former days at the White House,” the network notes.

Mr. Bannon will campaign in Mobile for Mr. Moore in the company of Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame. They appear in the Yellowhammer State just 72 hours after President Trump, who was in Alabama on Friday night, campaigning for Mr. Strange at a rally in Huntsville.


While noise and chatter continue in the press about the White House, President Trump outlined his plans for tax reform in forthright terms during his weekly address released Saturday. Here’s what he said:

“First, we are going to make the tax code simple and fair so that families can spend more time with their children and less time wading through pages of paperwork. A staggering 94 percent of families use professional help to do their taxes — and that’s not fair, that’s not right. That’s why, under our plan, 95 percent of Americans will be able to file their tax return on a single page without keeping receipts, tracking paperwork or filling out extra schedules,” Mr. Trump said.

“Second, we are going to cut taxes for the middle class so that hardworking Americans can finally save more for their future. We want to help families keep more of what they earn — and to be able to afford the costs of raising a family,” he continued.

“Third, we are going to restore America’s competitive edge by making our tax system more attractive for investment and job creation. Our business tax rate is the highest in the world — pushing jobs to foreign countries. That’s not what we want, that’s not what I’ve been talking about all these years. I’ve been talking about the exact opposite,” the president continued,

“Finally, we are going to bring back trillions of dollars in wealth parked overseas so that it can be invested in our country, where it belongs. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our tax code and pave the way to unprecedented prosperity. It will be the largest tax cut in our country’s history.”


• 84 percent of Americans say President Trump is “competitive”; 95 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

• 73 percent overall say Mr. Trump is “intense”; 87 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats agree.

• 65 percent overall say the president “emphasizes success”; 88 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats agree.

• 53 percent overall say he is “enthusiastic”; 83 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

• 32 percent say he is “courageous”; 67 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup Panel poll of 31,000 U.S. adults conducted July 27-Aug. 10 and released Friday.

• Ballyhoo and cautious opinions to jharper@washingtontimes.com

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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