The news was a thundering rockfall of bold, all-cap headlines ...
• Aggressive action called for as a potential global epidemic roiled in China.
• An impeachment trial in the Senate.
• The Iowa caucuses and all their noise and nonsense.
• Brexit ending Britain’s close ties with the European Union.
• Mexit ending Prince Harry’s close ties with British royalty.
• Dunkin’ Donuts announcing it would try blending Frank’s RedHot Sauce — cayenne pepper-flavored goo — with its apple and raspberry jelly donuts.
Then out of nowhere (well, actually out of Palm Beach) in the middle of all this sound and fury came the biggest news explosion of them all:
President Trump was caught in a video fidgeting and pretending to conduct the band during the national anthem at his private Super Bowl party in Palm Beach, Florida.
Lordhavemercy! What shall become of us?
The headlines gasped for breath:
• “Trump said everyone should stand proudly for the anthem (but) he fidgeted and air-conducted at his own Super Bowl party” — Washington Post.
• “As others stand for anthem, Trump fidgets, points, pretend-conducts the band” — Miami Herald
• “Video shows Trump disrespecting US anthem” — International Business Times
• “Trump pretends to conduct orchestra during Super Bowl national anthem” — New York Post
NBC had already broken the earth-shaking story that five of the seven members of the Super Bowl officiating crew were black. Did anybody but NBC really care?
Never mind that three out of four players in the NFL are black.
Nor that in Super Bowl XLI back in 2007, for the first time both head coaches were black (Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears). That WAS big news.
But NBC’s scoop wasn’t as seismic as Trump “disrespecting the anthem” at his own Super Bowl party at his Mar-A-Lago Resort on Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach.
Still echoing were praises for celebrity couple Jay-Z and Beyonce, who were filmed comfortably seated — at the stadium — during the national anthem. They were supporting the famous knee-taker Colin Kaepernick, a former quarterback who became famous for not standing during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Trump was a chump, according to angry voices in the media.
Private party or not, he had to know there were cameras around. As well as NBC spies.
Not since Lyndon B. Johnson, walking his beagles outside the White House on April 27, 1964, had a president so mortified the boys and girls of The Press.
On that day, Johnson bent down and seemingly lifted a dog named “Him” up on his hind legs by the ears. LBJ was branded a ruthless animal owner, and only an intense and well-planned effort by his handlers — the President’s handlers — cooled down the firestorm.
Him died a couple of years later when he was run over by a Secret Service agent’s car. His kennel mate, “Her,” died when she swallowed a rock.
Back to the present, we can only hope Trump has learned from his mistake and will never again fidget or pretend to be directing the national anthem at the start of sporting events.
He might think about sitting with Jay-Z and Beyonce, however. Or taking a knee with Kaepernick. At least he’d be back in NBC’s good graces.
One thing’s for certain:
Long after Kansas City’s Super Bowl victory over San Francisco fades from public memory, we’ll remember (and be reminded by NBC and friends in the media) that President Trump fidgeted and air-conducted during the national anthem.
Corky Simpson is a veteran journalist who writes a column for the Green Valley News.