John Oliver Calls Out Trump for Rubbing the American Flag Against His 'Old Boner'


At a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, on Friday night in support of incumbent Republican Senator Luther Strange, a homophobe in the pocket of Big Oil who sounds like a Marvel villain, President Donald Trump once again attempted to distract from his party’s failures while in control of both houses of Congress—in this case, the doomed Graham-Cassidy health-care bill—by stoking the flames of his ongoing culture war.

This time, his target wasn’t Saturday Night Live, Meryl Streep, the Emmys, or the Broadway musical Hamilton but rather Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started a movement of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of systemic racism and police brutality against black Americans.

“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!’” exclaimed President Trump, mimicking his famous reality-TV catchphrase, finger-point and all.

On Sunday night’s edition of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver, fresh off his big Emmy wins, took issue with the president’s latest cultural detour. 

“OK, putting aside the free-speech implications there, how is kneeling in front of a flag more disrespectful to it than grinding it against your gnarled old boner?” offered Oliver, throwing to a viral photo of candidate Trump bear-hugging the American flag during a rally in Tampa, Florida, on Oct. 24 for political points.

He added, “But I’m afraid it is true: The president of the United States took time out—while, it is worth noting, over three million American citizens in Puerto Rico are without power—to call Colin Kaepernick a ‘son of a bitch.’”

Trump received widespread condemnation for his remarks from those around the NFL, including players (many of whom took a knee on Sunday in solidarity with Kaepernick), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and even Trump’s longtime friend (and campaign supporter) Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, who called Trump’s comments “deeply disappointing.”

“When you have lost the moral high ground to Roger fucking Goodell, something is horribly wrong,” cracked Oliver. “Which is not to say Trump didn’t have his supporters on this issue, and none were more vigorous than Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, who delivered a characteristically calm and measured address to those kneeling football players.”

“Judge” Jeanine Pirro unleashed a several-minute rant on her Fox News program against those NFL players who chose to exercise their First Amendment right and take a knee during the national anthem.

“Shame on you. Shame on all of you,” shouted Pirro, in front of an American flag background.  

“Wow. But you know what, she is right. Nobody wants to hear about politics from a wildly successful athlete,” said Oliver. “You only want to hear about them from an abject failure of a prosecutor who somehow let Robert Durst slip through her fingers. And by the way, Jeanine: There’s a flag behind you. Have some fucking respect.”

President Trump, of course, has a history of questioning the First Amendment right to protest.

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Last November, he tweeted that people who burned the American flag should perhaps be punished by “loss of citizenship or year in jail,” and this February, when anti-fascists descended on Berkeley to protest the speech of far-right provocateur (and hebephilia apologist) Milo Yiannopoulos, President Trump tweeted in defense of Yiannopoulos and threatened to revoke UC Berkeley’s federal funding.

He also has a history of acrimony when it comes to the NFL. Trump was a vocal opponent of the NFL while an owner of the New Jersey Generals in the competing USFL pro football league during the ’80s (which fizzled in large part thanks to Trump), and suffered a failed bid to own the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2014—just one year prior to running for president.



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