For some time, right-wing diehards have tried to make us believe that there’s an 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of Donald Trump.” To hear them talk, the consequences for doing so are very severe. For instance, Carrie Underwood fell and broke her wrist earlier in the month. To hear the Trump diehards talk, it was punishment for daring to mock Trump at the CMA Music Awards a few days earlier.
Well, apparently that mentality has spread to Fox News Channel. For a few hours on Sunday, the fair and balanced network skipped and danced after one of the most decorated athletes in American history suffered a grave injury. Why? Because she dared to criticize Trump.
On Wednesday, Lindsey Vonn, the most successful ski racer that this country has ever produced, sat down for an interview with CNN to talk about her preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympics. When asked about how she would feel competing for a country whose president is Trump, Vonn minced no words. Watch here.
Vonn was in St. Moritz gearing up for the World Cup, the last major competition before the Olympics. She told CNN’s Christina Macfarlane that when she heads to Pyeongchang, “I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president.” She also said that if she won a gold medal, she would not accept an invitation to the White House.
Oh, how the right howled. On “Fox & Friends,” Peter Hegseth all but called Vonn and other athletes thinking of following her example ingrates for “preemptively declaring their resistance” to Trump. Ainsley Earhardt said that Vonn was “very un-American.”
Right-wing Twitter was no less outraged.
If Lindsey Vonn doesn't want to represent Donald Trump at the Olympics then I don't want Lindsey Vonn representing America. Bye ?? #MAGA ??????
— Austin (@amac_10) December 7, 2017
I’m sorry but Lindsey Vonn shouldn’t be going to the Winter Games at all. It’s appalling how she could disparage our President in this way. It’s not American, it’s a liberal snowflake showing off just like the NFL players. #UnAmerican #StayHomehttps://t.co/jdliqUEj1p
— Sweet Pea (@Sweet_PeaBelle) December 7, 2017
As the old saying goes "Beauty is only skin deep" certainly applies to Lindsey Vonn. She is beautiful to look at but "HATRED" for our POTUS is becoming very noticeable! She can't represent America without representing it's system of government. Trump is POTUS so deal with it!
— BigBlue (@BigBluetn65) December 8, 2017
The scolding continued on Saturday, when Tomi Lahren accused Vonn of disrespecting other Americans as well.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) December 9, 2017
Later that day in St. Moritz, Vonn was crossing the finish line at a World Cup super-G race when she collapsed and grabbed her lower back. She later told her Twitter fans that she’d jarred her back during the race.
Looks like i have an acute facet (spinal joint) dysfunction. I got compressed on the 6th gate and my back seized up. Rested and had a lot of therapy tonight. We will see how I feel tomorrow and then decide if I will race. Thanks for the support ??
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) December 9, 2017
Our @usskiteam doctor checked me out and no imaging is needed ?? just need the joint and the muscles to calm down so I can move again.
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) December 9, 2017
By Sunday morning, Vonn’s back hadn’t healed enough to let her compete in that day’s events. However, she was still in high spirits.
Unfortunately I will not be able to race today. I am extremely disappointed but my biggest goal this season is the Olympics and I need to take care of myself now so I can be ready for next week, and more importantly, for February. As always, thank you for the well wishes ❤️??
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) December 10, 2017
Unfortunately, a number of commenters on both Twitter and Facebook felt the need to kick Vonn when she was down.
I don’t wish you any harm, but I do believe you reap what you sow. If you are participating in the Olympics—you are representing USA. @realDonaldTrump IS our POTUS, therefore you DO represent our POTUS. Leave your Political views at home. You don’t have another venue to hate??
— StacyLStiles (@StacyLStiles) December 10, 2017
— Lex Talionis (@themacinator) December 9, 2017
Donald Trump Broke Me. pic.twitter.com/gNTosKIzEO
— Corp Jihad Watch (@JohnGaltReport) December 9, 2017
TRUMP’S YOUR DADDY!!! pic.twitter.com/UMW5ekcZK2
— Patriot Drew ???? (@realPatriotDrew) December 10, 2017
It’s best for America this way- we want our athletes to be smart, ethical, patriotic & talented, of which you have none, except cowardness-gold there!
— Plato’s Republic (@realDrNick) December 10, 2017
Disrespecting @realDonaldTrump is the same as disrespecting all of his supporters. Thats 65 million of us. Not a good choice. It's time for your sponsors to see this. @redbull #BoycottRedBull @UnderArmour #BoycottUnderArmour
— Ron (@ronaldkd) December 10, 2017
A few hours later, the folks who run Fox News’ Website got in on the act. This was the original headline for their story on Vonn’s injury.
The story’s second sentence drove the supposed point home.
“The injury occurred two days after she criticized President Donald Trump in an interview about the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea.”
This was, without a doubt, one of the lowest blows ever struck by Fox News in its 21-year history. The fair and balanced network was essentially taking a victory lap over a Trump critic being injured. What makes it even worse is that it didn’t come from one of Fox News’ commentators or contributors. This came from the news side.
By Sunday afternoon, someone had the decency to cut out “after Trump comments” from the headline, and also removed “after Trump comments” from the slug. Posts about the story on Fox News’ official Facebook and Twitter feeds also omitted this cheap shot. However, the story still contains the sentence noting Vonn was injured after criticizing Trump. A search on Google still reveals a link containing the original cheap shot headline and slug.
Granted, this is to be expected from Fox News. After all, it saw fit to trash Jimmy Carter on its official Twitter account just hours after it was announced that his liver cancer had begun spreading. But can you imagine what would have happened had MSNBC, CNN, or a Big Three network news site seen fit to suggest a right-leaning athlete had gotten hurt for speaking ill of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? There would have rightly been demands for whoever wrote the headline and the story to be fired.
Regardless of what you think about Vonn’s comments, this was several miles over the line. Fox News needs to delete that sentence suggesting Vonn was hurt for criticizing Trump, discipline who wrote this story, and issue an on-air apology to Vonn. Let Fox News have it on Facebook and on Twitter.
(featured image courtesy Duncan Rawlinson, available under a Creative Commons-BY license)