Television networks have been accused of failing to tell the whole story by focusing their cameras on NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem last weekend while glossing over the fans booing the protests.
Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News called out the broadcasters in a Wednesday column for “covering one of the most significant days in NFL history with rose-colored glasses” by paying little attention to the crowd reaction.
“Some fans, if they reacted at all, happily clapped and cheered during protests, but others did not, and they angrily let their home teams know it,” Mr. McCarthy said. “The audio mics picked up the boos. Yet the TV networks mostly avoided crowd shots Sunday, so there was never a chance for viewers to see fans jeering players.”
Some sportscasters did make reference to the angry crowds, as did President Trump, who said in a tweet that the booing at the Monday night game between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys was “the loudest I have ever heard.”
“Fans booing Jets and Dolphins players were loud and clear during CBS’s telecast from East Rutherford, N.J.,” Mr. McCarthy said. “But we never saw them. Instead, we got a lot of field-level shots of linked arms players and saluting police officers.”
An Associated Press video included audio of New England Patriots fans loudly booing during the Sunday take-a-knee protest, with some yelling, “Stand up!”
“That happened in true-blue Massachusetts,” said Legal Insurrection’s Mike LaChance. “You would think that’s newsworthy. As many people have pointed out over the years, media bias is just as much about what isn’t covered.”
He said that networks had no such reluctance to cover enraged liberal crowds “storming town hall meetings and angrily yelling at Republican congressmen.”
“NFL fans who are angry about players kneeling during the national anthem haven’t been so lucky,” Mr. LaChance said.
Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture for the conservative Media Research Center, chalked up the disparity in coverage to the media bias in favor of the protest.
“The number-one support group for the players is the media,” he said. “The media has driven this protest since it began.”
As a result, he said, “they’re not paying attention to the fans. They’re paying attention to the players.”
“The real story here is the tens and hundreds of thousands of fans who are angry, but the media wants to show the people they agree with, and that’s the players,” Mr. Gainor said.
A “behind-the-scenes staffer” told the Sporting News that camera operators “were ordered to avoid crowd shots in case they showed fans counterprotesting the protests,” which CBS, ESPN, NBC and FOX have denied.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Eddie Motl, vice president for FOX Sports Communications, in a statement to The Washington Times.
Dan Masonson, spokesman for NBCUniversal, said that “there were fans clearly visible in the shots of both sidelines on Sunday night.”
Some players sat or took knees while others stood and locked arms during the national anthem after Mr. Trump criticized the protests last week at a rally in Alabama.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,’” Mr. Trump said. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Mr. Trump later said he supported those who stood and linked arms during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The protests began last season in the aftermath of heated nationwide protests over the deaths of black men at the hands of police.
The most visible player to take a knee was former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who opted out of the final year of his contract in March and has not been signed by another team.