Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media throw a fit over LeBron James sitting during the national anthem

Basketball star LeBron James was spotted entering, sitting, and then standing during the national anthem in the lead-up to his son’s college basketball game. Almost immediately, right-wing media took the partial clip and used it to attack James, even though according to the reporter who took the video, James regularly enters arenas during the anthem to avoid causing a distraction during his son’s games. Right-wing media have been selective about this issue in the past.

  • Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked athletes for supposedly not respecting the national anthem

    • Fox News has repeatedly attacked athletes that protest or express their liberal views, targeting former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem and decrying the U.S. women’s soccer team for protesting anti-LGBTQ policies, among others. Meanwhile the network has welcomed and celebrated professional athletes that have used their platforms to push right-wing talking points, such as Curt Schilling and Tim Tebow. [Media Matters, 7/18/19]
    • James has been a favorite target of the right’s crusade against outspoken athletes. Fox’s Mark Levin attacked James for posting an Instagram photo of Colin Kaepernick amid the George Floyd protests, and in 2018 Laura Ingraham told James to “Shut up and dribble.” [Media Matters, 5/29/20, 2/16/18]
  • Right-wing media have a meltdown over James sitting during the national anthem

    • On The Faulkner Focus, guest host Julie Banderas called James' actions “disgusting,” and “so un-American,” adding, “He might as well move to another country.” Banderas claimed that “this is why college youth are so screwed up” and aired an earlier clip of former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom complaining that “there are tons of kids in that arena idolizing” James while he is “disrespecting the flag, disrespecting our country.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 12/15/23]
    • Charlie Kirk complained about James: “He can’t even show a modicum of respect for the country that has given him everything. The question is, what has LeBron James given this country? Not very much, except for being a 38 year old brat, self-interested and unpatriotic.“ [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show12/13/23]
    • On his radio show, Fox host Mark Levin went on a tirade attacking James: “I think LeBron is a POS … He obviously hates this country. He's on the side of every reprobate, every anti-American — in many cases — Marxist groups and efforts.” After suggesting James visit China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Gaza, or Moscow, Levin screamed, “You jerk. You jerk. Take that basketball and stick it.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 12/13/23]
    • Fox News contributor Joe Concha said James “shows no respect for our military by sitting in this situation.” He added, “If LeBron James was playing in China and their anthem came on, he would stand for that.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 12/13/23]
    • Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk suggested James should leave the country due to sitting for the national anthem. He wrote on X: “Lebron sits during the National Anthem. He should move to Eastern Europe and try to makes his $1 billion there. Or China! He could disrespect America all he wants there. But he won’t because he’s a coward. Shame on him.” [Twitter/X, 12/12/23]
    • Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec wrote that James’ behavior was “DISGRACEFUL.” [Twitter/X, 12/12/23
    • Fox News host Mark Levin, posted on X simply: “Lebron James is a POS” with a link to a Breitbart article on the subject. [Twitter/X, 12/13/23
    • The Federalist founder Sean Davis claimed, “LeBron James only stands for the communist Chinese national anthem.” [Twitter/X, 12/12/23
    • Right-wing Rumble personality Graham Allen called James “an absolute piece of garbage!!!” He demanded James, “Show some RESPECT for the National Anthem!!” [Twitter/X, 12/12/23
    • Fox-owned sports outlet OutKick posted that James sitting was “absolutely embarrassing conduct,” adding that he was “showing zero respect for America’s beautiful anthem.” [Twitter/X, 12/13/23
    • Right-wing influencer Terrence K. Williams posted, “Lebron James disrespected the National Anthem.” [Twitter/X, 12/12/23]