UPDATE: A source with knowledge of the Shepard Smith segment refuted an earlier version of this article, which interpreted Smith’s comments as a criticism of his own network, Fox News. In stating, “We’re complicit,” Smith was referring to himself and Politico reporter Rachel Bade, the source clarified.
An updated version of the original article continues below.
EARLIER: Since that Saturday Night Live sketch with Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump, the word “complicit” is getting a second wind in political discourse. In speaking to Politico reporter Rachel Bade, Fox News host Shepard Smith criticized the suggestion that the NFL players’ protests were about disrespecting the National Anthem and the country.
Trump attacked former 49ers player Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem at a football game, claiming “privilege”-ed athletes who follow form are “making millions of dollars” and “disrespecting our Great American Flag (or Country).” Among a series of follow-up tweets, POTUS wrote, “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
But Smith explained that it does have to do with race.
“It’s very clear that, for his base, this is the red meat of all red meat because they’re able to reframe this,” he said to Bade in the segment (shown above). “They’re able to say, ‘Oh, they’re attacking the National Anthem. They’re attacking the troops. They’re attacking the flag’ — none of which they’re doing. They’re not doing any of that. They’re upset about racial injustice in the country and they’re upset about the things that the president has said, and yet he’s able to turn it around for his base.”
When Bade mentioned that “people, in general, don’t like it when folks protest the National Anthem,” Smith, again, course corrected. “That’s not what they’re doing and we’re complicit,” he said.
Other outlets interpreted this as a jab at Smith’s own network. Though, again, the source claimed that wasn’t the intention. Watch the clip of Smith above.
During a stump speech in Alabama on Friday, Trump lodged a veiled attack against Kaepernick, calling him a “son of a b–ch” and calling for athletes who disrespect the American flag to be “fired.” This continued days later on Twitter, while many celebrities, including Kaepernick’s fellow athletes, slammed Trump for the out-of-the-blue remarks.
“Kneeling during the national anthem has everything to do with race — just like your presidency,” Stephen Colbert jabbed on The Late Show Monday.
Amid a chat with Bill Maher on Real Time Friday, sportscaster Bob Costas said, “Even people who disagree with [Kaepernick] recognize that you’d be crazy to deny the right of expression that the people they rightly revere — for having put their lives on the line to protect it and ensure it — why would you deprive someone of that right, even if you disagree with it?”