Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, wasn’t messing around Monday.
A former White House press secretary under President Clinton, Lockhart used surgical precision in leveling a shot at President Trump, tying Sunday’s nationwide protests by players, owners and coaches to Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” recording from his days as a TV star in 2005.
“Everyone should know, including the president, this is what real locker room talk is,” Lockhart said in a conference call with reporters.
Trump and his supporters had argued that he was merely indulging in “locker room talk” when he said in an “Access Hollywood” video leaked to The Washington Post that, because he was a celebrity, he could “do anything” with women, including “grab them by the pussy.” Lockhart added that, in reality, locker room talk involves a discussion of inequality and criminal justice reform and other topics.
Lockhart’s comment shows that sports and politics in the Trump era aren’t going to be untangled anytime soon and, frankly, that’s probably partly why he was hired.
Lockhart, a former TV producer and the son of journalists, joined the NFL in the winter of 2016, replacing Paul Hicks as the league’s vice president of communications. (Hicks is the father of Hope Hicks, Trump’s communications director.) Clearly, he knows just what message he wants to send.
“If Lockhart knows anything,” Peter Maer, a veteran CBS White House correspondent told SI.com’s Emily Kaplan when Lockhart was hired, “it’s how to control a narrative.”
Lockhart was a strategist in the Clinton White House during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, then helped launch a communication strategy firm, Glover Park Group. He has also worked with Oracle and Facebook. He also happens to have sold his home in Washington to a certain former president named Barack Obama.
Lockhart went on to say that White House and the NFL had not been in communication.
“The president has chosen his form of dialogue, which is Twitter and statements,” he said. “… If the president wants to engage in something that’s positive, productive and constructive, he has our number.”
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