Fact Check: Colin Kaepernick Did NOT Lobby To Remove The National Anthem From Football

Fact Check

  • by: Jimmy Greenfield
Fact Check: Colin Kaepernick Did NOT Lobby To Remove The National Anthem From Football

Did former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick lobby to remove the National Anthem from football? No, that's not true: This story was published on a satirical site called Be Best.website which describes itself as "a subsidiary of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of parody, satire, and tomfoolery." Kaepernick never made such an effort, and the story has been debunked as early as 2019.

The claim originated from an article (archived here) where it was published by BeBest website under the title "Kaepernick Lobbies to Remove the National Anthem from Football". It opened:

Ever since that rat traitor Colon Kaepernick first took a knee at an NFL game in San Francisco, he's been a thorn in the side of patriots from coast to coast. He claimed it was a protest over police brutality against minorities. A civil rights demonstration, he said. The nation wasn't fooled about his true reasons. True Americans knew that Kaepernick was spitting on our veterans, the flag, and the country as a whole each and every time he knelt through our glorious Star Spangled Banner.

The former quarterback is now switching sides. Sort of. Kaepernick is leading a group he's calling "Colin Opposes Political Statements", or COPS. The group is intent on eliminating public political statements at NFL events. But there's a catch. COPS spokesperson Regina Guertin explains what the movement is really about:

"COPS opposes political statements from players or public at sporting events. Of any kind. Kneeling through the anthem IS one such statement. But there's more. Standing through the anthem. STATEMENT. Holding your hand over your heart through the anthem. STATEMENT. Holding your head high through the anthem. STATEMENT. Singing the words to the anthem. STATEMENT. Crying as the anthem plays. STATEMENT.

Kaepernick took a knee while the National Anthem played during the 2016 season to protest police brutality. However, there is no evidence he is seeking to remove the National Anthem from football. The group "Colin Opposes Political Statements" is a fictitious organization invented by BeBest for its satirical story.

The story was first debunked by Snopes on July 24, 2019.

The BeBest site comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full-time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites, including wearethellod.com, bustatroll.org or bebest.website. Sometimes, he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager as revealed in this earlier story we wrote.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past, but new ones keep cropping up.

Blair and his operation were profiled by the Washington Post on November 17, 2018, by Eli Saslow:

'Nothing on this page is real': How lies become truth in online America

November 17 The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed.

If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:

The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer, it is, of course, also fake news.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalists to rank the reliability of websites, describes bebest.website as:

A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.

According to NewsGuard, the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about bebest.website before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

Kaepernick Lobbies to Remove the National Anthem from Football

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  Jimmy Greenfield

Jimmy Greenfield spent 25 years at the Chicago Tribune working as a reporter, columnist and digital producer. He was part of the inaugural staff of RedEye, the Tribune's commuter tabloid and helped launch ChicagoNow, the Tribune's blog network.

He spent nine years running ChicagoNow before transitioning to the sports department and covering the Blackhawks beginning 2018. Jimmy is the author of "100 Things Cubs Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die."

Read more about or contact Jimmy Greenfield

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