Did the NFL’s TV partners decide to air live coverage of the national anthem without showing live shots of booing fans? You betcha! Those partners left out a key element of the coverage: crowd shots of angry fans. Censorship is alive and well when it comes to NFL football…Camera operators were told NOT to show angry fans in the stands. If they can show the players and coaches disrespecting our flag and national anthem then they should show the fans too.
Networks typically do not televise the national anthem except for the Super Bowl and other special occasions, but they recognized there would be intense viewer interest this past weekend.
Fans angrily let their home teams know of their disapproval during all games last weekend. 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.
Sporting News reported:
During NBC’s telecast of “Sunday Night Football” in Landover, Md., we got plenty close-up views of Raiders and Redskins sitting or linking arms during the anthem. The fans were strictly in the background.
Fans booing Jets and Dolphins players were loud and clear during CBS’s telecast from East Rutherford, N.J. But we never saw them. Instead, we got a lot of field-level shots of linked arms players and saluting police officers.
ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” only showed one fan during the national anthem and that fan was holding an American flag. With all the booing in the stands, you would think a shot or two of the fans would have happened.
A segment of Patriots fans in Foxborough, Mass., for example, nearly booed their own players off the field when some Pats sat or kneeled, with some screaming, “Stand up!”
— AP NFL (@AP_NFL) September 24, 2017
One behind-the-scenes TV staffer at another stadium told Sporting News that camera operators were ordered to avoid crowd shots in case they showed fans counter protesting the protests.
Even though a CBS spokeswoman claimed no one at the network was instructed to ignore the crowd, the proof is in every single game where no close-ups of angry fans were shown.
NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN pay billions each year to televise live NFL games. The league saw this weekend’s unprecedented anthem coverage as a golden opportunity to demonstrate unity among players, coaches and owners — and opposition to Trump’s comments.
If crowd shots were indeed purposely avoided, it was a wise business decision by the networks not to bite the hand that feeds them their most popular programming, but a weak move from a journalistic standpoint. By covering one of the most significant days in NFL history with rose-colored glasses, the networks cheated viewers. We got an incomplete picture of what really happened in stadiums on Sunday and Monday.
Yes, the main television focus should have been on the players, coaches and owners sitting, kneeling or linking arms. But fans hold the ultimate power over the networks and the league, and they were missing in action during coverage.
Fans were hardly shown, much less interviewed, by NFL networks Sunday….Censorship