President Trump on Tuesday escalated his tirades against the NFL in an ongoing controversy over players who kneel to protest racial injustice, questioning tax breaks for professional football and attacking an ESPN commentator who has been critical of him and the league.
“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!," Trump wrote in an early morning tweet.
Other Republicans have recently called for the NFL to lose millions in tax incentives as a result of the protest. Until 2015 when it voluntarily relinquished those benefits, the NFL was a tax-exempt entity according to federal law. But the league still receives billions tax breaks from federal and state governments in order to construct its privately owned stadiums.
He followed it by criticizing ESPN commentator Jemele Hill, who was suspended Monday by the network for tweets that suggested consumers boycott some advertisers for NFL teams who had threatened to retaliate against their players for protesting if they disagreed with the policy of punishing players.
“With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have 'tanked, in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!” Trump wrote.
This is the second time the White House has criticized Hill, who earlier this year was reprimanded by ESPN for calling Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter.
In response, the White House called for her to be fired.
Trump has for weeks criticized players and teams for their protest, which he has claimed disrespects the American flag and anthem.
On Sunday, Vice President Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game early after some players from the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the anthem.