This story is a perfect little encapsulation of what the right wing propaganda machine in general and Fox News in particular is doing to this country:
A 98-year-old World War II veteran, Pete DuPré, played the Star-Spangled Banner on the harmonica before the US women’s soccer team’s final pre-Olympics match, a Monday friendly against Mexico.
Then a bunch of right-wing media outlets and commentators invented a false narrative about the American players.
The US team’s activism — which has included protests during the national anthem — has been a regular target of conservative criticism. This time, conservatives blasted US players for something they did not actually do.
For the anthem, some of the players on the pitch in East Hartford, Connecticut, turned to face the American flag — as did much of the crowd. That meant these players’ backs were turned to DuPré, but they clearly were not making a statement against the veteran or the anthem.
A bunch of right-wing people and publications claimed that they were.
The Daily Caller, Canadian website The Post Millennial, commentator David J. Harris Jr. and commentator Nick Adams, among others, claimed or strongly suggested that these players had been turning their back on the 98-year-old veteran. Other prominent figures on the right, including former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer and commentator Dinesh D’Souza, echoed the false claim about the players disrespecting DuPré.
Inaccurate tweets on the subject have been shared thousands of times in total. A misleadingly captioned video from The Post Millennial, a key driver of the phony narrative, had been viewed more than 400,000 times as of Tuesday afternoon. And YouTube videos with similar captions have racked up thousands of additional views.
In addition to omitting the context about the location of the stadium’s flag, the initial tweets and articles did not mention that the national team has a prior connection to DuPré. Some of the players met him during a 2019 trip to the beaches of Normandy and spoke about how touched they were by the experience. DuPré also played the anthem on the harmonica at the team’s final game before the 2019 World Cup.
The fact that yesterday’s Two Minute Hate was instantly debunked made no difference to Fox News though. America’s most postmodern “news” network immediately went meta on the story:
“A huge percentage of American sports fans totally think it’s believable,” [Clay] Travis said. “It’s unfortunately a sign of where we are that so many of us just presume that level of disrespect.”
Yes, very unfortunate indeed Clay! (Clay
Davis Travis is Rush Limbaugh’s literal replacement on Hate Radio btw). How did something like this happen anyway?
Note that the US Women’s National Team is in many ways a perfect target for Fox News, since it features women playing sports (bad, except in narrow feminized contexts like ice skating and gymnastics, where the athletes can still be little girls in pretty boxes), with the sport in question being the foreign and therefore contemptible version of football, redolent as it is of sissified European socialism and Latin American caravan invasions. So Fox gets to replay its whole Colin Kaepernick greatest hits collection, but with misogyny and nativism thrown into the mix.
I’ve mentioned before the fate of Julius Streicher; in the thread below a commenter analogizes Tucker Carlson to William Joyce, aka Lord Haw Haw, who was also hanged immediately after the defeat of that particular generation’s most prominent fascists. From a strictly formal legal perspective the executions of Streicher and Joyce were of a most dubious nature: Streicher was thrown out of the Nazi government before the beginning of the war, and Joyce was an American citizen, who the British executed for treason to the Crown anyway (In fact he’s the last person to have been executed for that crime in the UK).
With any — well with a lot — of luck we will be having similar debates about the appropriate legal disposition of our own generation of fomenters of fascism at some point in the unwritten future.