Donald Trump has made repeated attacks on NFL players who refuse to stand during the national anthem, but critics said Trump is guilty of doing just that during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity this week.
Trump was interviewed by Hannity at an Air National Guard hangar in Middletown, Pennsylvania. In the midst of the interview, the loudspeakers began playing the tune “Retreat,” which signals the official end of duty. As the Balance noted, it is also a ceremony to pay respect to the flag as it is lowered for the day.
But Donald Trump appeared to be confused with hearing the song — which Newsweek noted is a military tradition dating back to even before the American Revolutionary War — and instead asked Sean Hannity if the song was playing in his own honor.
“What a nice sound that is,” Trump said (via the Washington Examiner). “Are they playing that for you or for me?”
“They’re playing that in honor of his ratings,” Trump replied to his own question. “He’s beating everybody.”
During the song, the show’s cameras caught some members of the audience standing in respect for the flag, Newsweek noted. Uniformed members of the military are required to stop and salute the flag, while civilians are required to place their hand over their heart.
But Trump did neither, instead continuing his interview with Sean Hannity, Business Insider noted.
That led to a round of criticism given Trump’s harsh views on NFL players who choose to sit or kneel during the national anthem. Last season, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to take a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against minorities. Since then, a handful of other players across the league joined in.
Earlier this season, Trump took aim at the protesting players, saying at a rally in Alabama that the owners should fire the players who take part in the protests. Since then, Trump has revisited the issue several more times and even orchestrated an event this weekend where Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a game between the Colts and 49ers after several players participated in demonstrations during the national anthem.
Trump said later that day that he had told Pence to walk out if players protested, which was a given as the 49ers have consistently participated in protests going back to last season.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s American flag flub, many shared video of the way comedian Robin Williams reacted to a surprise playing of “Retreat” during an appearance in Afghanistan. As service members stood and turned toward the flag, Williams followed suit, stopping himself mid-sentence to show respect for the flag.
Donald Trump has not released any statement about his failure to stand for the flag-lowering ceremony, but he continues to lean on the NFL. In a tweet this week, he congratulated the NFL for a new rule requiring players to stand for the anthem — a rule proposal that has not actually been put into place or even discussed among NFL owners yet.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]