Right-wing talk radio host Clay Travis defended the faux controversy over the U.S. Women’s National Team supposedly showing disrespect to a 98-year-old World War II veteran during the national anthem, telling Fox News on Tuesday that the false story was “emblematic” of where we are as a nation because a “huge percentage of American sports fans totally think it’s believable.”
Following right-wing media’s weeklong fit of anger over U.S. Olympian Gwen Berry’s podium protest during the national anthem, Canadian conservative ragebait site The Post Millenial kicked off another outrage cycle when it accused the soccer team of “turn[ing] their backs” on World War II veteran Pete DuPre as he played “The Star-Spangled Banner” before their Monday match with Mexico.
The story was quickly picked up by other conservative news sites and attracted online anger from the usual suspects, only for the women’s team’s communication reps to expose the story as completely bogus.
“Not true. No one turned their back on WWII Veteran Pete DuPré during tonight’s anthem,” the soccer squad’s communication team posted. “Some USWNT players were simply looking at the flag on a pole in one end of the stadium. The players all love Pete, thanked him individually after the game and signed a ball for him.”
The team’s reps also posted video of each player personally thanking DuPre after the game and signing a ball for him. Additionally, DuPre apparently has a close relationship with the team as he’s played the national anthem before other U.S. Women’s games.
Appearing on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom on Tuesday, Travis—who recently took over the late Rush Limbaugh’s radio time slot—shrugged off the false narrative about the soccer team’s supposed protest against the anthem and DuPre, seemingly justifying it because it just felt right.
With the Fox News chyron blaring “U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Explains Anthem Flap,” anchor Dana Perino said there was a “dust-up” over the team because “some people who think that there were members of the team who were turning away from the flag and the anthem that was being played there.”
Adding that the team says it’s “not true” and players were facing a flag in a different direction, Perino stated that it “makes sense” to her but wanted to know what Travis saw in that video.
“I think this is emblematic of where we are with sports now,” the talk radio host declared. “A huge percentage of American sports fans totally think it’s believable that the U.S. women’s soccer team would turn their back on a 98-year-old World War II veteran as he plays the national anthem and not even think twice about it.”
Saying he felt the video of the players was a “bit confusing” because they all aren’t facing the same direction, Travis defended the latest right-wing outrage over a fake story, essentially saying the players were guilty by association.
“I think it is, unfortunately, a sign of where we are as a country that so many of us just presume that that level of disrespect is occurring by our national teams during the anthem,” he concluded.
Anchor Bill Hemmer, meanwhile, noted that you could “tell the sensitivity on behalf of the women’s team by how forcefully they were resisting the suggestion that there was any disrespect” for DuPre or the anthem.
“But, Clay, I tell you, in Tokyo, this is going to be a story. It’s going to be a bigger story than the [Olympic] Games themselves,” Hemmer added, preparing the audience for upcoming outrage cycles about protesting athletes.
At the end of the segment, Perino would go on and say that Travis had “made some great points.”