The Buzz

Olympic Patriotism Cops

It’s no secret that Fox News can be over-the-top, but a recent segment with David Webb criticizing American gymnast Gabby Douglas’ “lack of patriotism” was beyond ridiculous.

Douglas, who is both a gold medalist and—lest we forget—a child, is attacked by Webb for not wearing patriotic enough attire when competing or standing on the podium. He asks of Douglas “What’s wrong with showing pride? What we’re seeing is the kind of soft anti-American feeling, that Americans can’t show our exceptionalism.” What was the kid supposed to do? Break out red-white-and-blue Zubaz pants to spread liberty around the world? Nevermind that team gear is standard issue and that each athlete wears the apparel given to him or her by our country’s Olympic committee. 

According to Webb, it is through sport that we should illustrate our superiority to the world. Among other grievances, we are apparently guilty of not singing the national anthem as vociferously as we used to at baseball games and saying the pledge of allegiance less frequently. 

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf takes Webb down easily:

What's especially crazy about all this is that after Gabby Douglas won the gold medal in the women's gymnastics all-around, she stood waving up at the crowd clad in a red, white, and blue jacket with USA written on the back. Later during the medal ceremony she wore a gray jacket with an American flag patch on the shoulder, stood atop the podium, and listened to "The Star-Spangled Banner" as an American flag was hoisted up above her. Even if that weren't all true David Webb's commentary would be nonsense, but the fact that it is all true adds to the comic ambivalence about factual accuracy that characterizes so much of what people say on Fox News.

Friedersdorf’s clincher says it best: “What other enterprise would turn Olympic gold for America into an opportunity to make Americans anxious and upset about allegedly waning patriotism?”

The Atlantic’s piece is a smart take on an unfortunate segment of cable news.