Source: LM Otero/Associated Press
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell condemned racism, apologized for not listening to black players in the past, and said “black lives matter” in a video released Friday.
- The apology came after an NFL producer reached out to several players before putting out a now-viral video asking the NFL to make such a statement.
- President Trump joined the conversation, first criticizing New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees for apologizing after saying it is ”disrespectful” to kneel in front of the American flag.
- Trump then targeted Goodell specifically on Sunday.
NFL Players Release “I am George Floyd” Video
For the first time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has condemned racism, apologized for not listening to black players’ concerns about racial injustice, and said, “black lives matter.”
Goodell’s statement, made in a video Friday, represents a massive change in stance for the league, which has largely opposed kneeling during the national anthem since then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first did it in 2016.
Goodell reportedly recorded his video after watching a now-viral video from multiple black NFL players, who themselves were responding to comments made by New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance Wednesday, Brees said he believed kneeling was “disrespectful” to the American flag. Soon afterward, his comments went viral, and he became the subject of intense criticism.
That same day, Bryndon Minter—a creative producer at the NFL—messaged Michael Thomas, a teammate of Brees on the Saints. Minter said he reached out because he was embarrassed by how the league had been silent and not condemned racism or said “black lives matter.”
Minter then pitched working together with Thomas to help make players’ voices heard. Thursday evening, joined by a number of NFL players, they released a video now known as “I am George Floyd.”
In it, the players ask, “What if I was George Floyd?” before ultimately saying that because racial injustice could just as easily happen to them as it did Floyd, “I am George Floyd.” The players then followed that “I am” statement with the names of about a dozen more black people killed by police or others, including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin.
Those players also urged the NFL to condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people, to admit it was wrong in silencing players from peacefully protesting, and to say, “black lives matter.”
Goodell Condemns Racism, Says “Black Lives Matter”
For many, that video was a powerful moment of black players standing in solidarity to hold their organization accountable. It was also one that seemed to pay off as it was later reported that Goodell himself was also moved by the video.
In fact, according to an executive close to Goodell, “Roger felt like they were speaking directly to him. There’s been a lot of self reflection going on across the league.”
The next day, Goodell released a video statement where he answered many of the requests made in the players’ video and said, “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”
Notably, that is is the first time Goodell has publicly said “black lives matter.” It’s also the first time the NFL has apologized for how it’s responded to black players.
In the past, Goodell condemned kneeling, saying that players should stand for the national anthem. At one point, he even endorsed a short-lived policy that would have forced them to stand.
Still, Goodell’s response did not fully satisfy many because while he apologized for how the NFL responded to black players, he did not apologize for the NFL’s stance on kneeling. In fact, Goodell never makes a specific mention to kneeling. He also never mentions Kaepernick.
“The NFL should explicitly say Colin Kaepernick’s name,” sports journalist Taylor Rooks said. “Can’t acknowledge the right to protest & not have his actions stated.”
Rooks also noted how much power those players in the “I am George Floyd” video have, saying, “SO much more to be done, but a lot can be accomplished when players speak as one.”
Goodell’s statement comes after a May 30 tweet where he said, “The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country. The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.”
“We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as a part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”
That tweet also received heavy criticism for not making any mention of racial injustice and for not addressing the NFL’s history with Kaepernick, who at one point, sued the NFL for allegedly colluding to blacklist him.
“@NFL what actual steps are you taking to support the fight for justice and system reform?,” NFL players like Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr said. “Your statement said nothing. Your league is built on black athletes. Vague answers do nothing. Let the players know what you’re ACTUALLY doing. And we know what silence means.”
Trump Blasts Brees and Goodell for Apologizing
President Donald Trump was among those criticizing Brees and Goodell for changing or seemingly changing their stances on kneeling during the national anthem.
“I am a big fan of Drew Brees,” the president said on Friday. “I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag.”
“NO KNEELING,” he followed up.
Sunday night, Trump then took aim at Goodell.
On Instagram, Brees directly responded to the president’s criticism, saying, “…this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.”
“We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform.”
“We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”
Whether Goodell’s comments signify a serious change for the NFL remains to be seen as it won’t just require changes to executives and policies; rather, it will need to address whole teams, their players, sponsors, and even fans.
For example, last week, the Washington Redskins supported the protests by tweeting #BlackOutTuesday. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) then responded by calling the team out for the controversy around its name and mascot, saying: “Want to really stand for racial justice? Change your name.”
See what others are saying: (Yahoo Sports) (The Wall Street Journal) (ESPN)
Andrew Tate to Remain in Romanian Detention After Losing Appeal
The controversial influencer, accused of sex trafficking and organized crime, has maintained his innocence.
A Romanian court on Wednesday upheld a judge’s decision to extend influencer Andrew Tate’s arrest another 30 days.
The judge initially tacked the extra time onto his detention on Jan. 20. According to BBC News, the judge cited “the capacity…of the defendants to exercise permanent psychological control over the victims, including by resorting to constant acts of violence”.
Tate appealed that decision alongside his brother and two others, all of whom were arrested as part of an ongoing sex trafficking and organized crime investigation. The court’s Wednesday decision rejected that appeal, meaning Tate and the other accused individuals will remain in custody until at least Feb. 27.
Investigators claim that Tate lured victims under the guise of a romantic relationship, only to place them under surveillance and force them to make pornographic content. Tate has denied the accusations.
“You know I’m innocent,” Tate said to reporters Wednesday morning while walking into the courtroom.
“Ask them for evidence and they will give you none,” he added while leaving court. “Because it doesn’t exist. You’ll find out the truth of this case soon.”
Tate’s Controversial Online Presence
Ever since December his arrest, Tate’s Twitter account has continued to post sometimes cryptic messages about the investigation into him.
“Would your life be fine without you?” he tweeted on Tuesday, one day before his appeal was rejected. “In Romania. They can steal your life without a trial. They do not need evidence, In this system, innocent men return to ruined lives. My life outside is fine. But for most men, 6 months detained and their whole life will crumble.”
Tate is a controversial online figure famous for spreading violent misogyny to his often young male followers. He has been banned by a number of social media platforms for his drastic remarks, including one where he said rape victims should “bear responsibility” for the assault they endured.
Tate and his brother recently added high-profile lawyer Tina Glandian to their defense team. Glandian has previously represented celebrities like Chris Brown, Jussie Smollett, and Kesha.
On Wednesday, she said there is a “lack of evidence against the Tate brothers.”
“So far the system has failed,” she said, via the Associated Press.
See what others are saying: (BBC News) (The Associated Press) (Rolling Stone)
QTCinderalla Vows to Sue Deepfake Website: “Constant Objectification” is “Exhausting”
The streamer said that anyone who chooses to view nonconsensual deepfake porn is “the problem.”
QTCinderella Plans Legal Action
Twitch streamer QTCinderalla said during a Monday stream that she is going to sue the maker of a website that hosts explicit deepfake images of herself and other content creators.
“I promise you, with every part of my fucking soul, I am going to sue you,” QTCinderella, whose real name is Blaire, said through tears.
Blaire went live after fellow streamer Atrioc accidentally revealed on Twitch that he had an open tab to a website that hosts deepfake porn. Graphic images of high-profile female streamers were visible his browser, and the website also includes deepfakes of more creators, including Blaire.
Atrioc apologized for accessing deepfake images on a website that promotes explicit content of his female streaming colleagues. He claimed that he got “morbidly curious” and “clicked something” after falling down an artificial intelligence rabbit hole online.
“It’s gross,” he said. “It’s gross and I’m sorry.”
In the past, Blaire has talked about having to pay services thousands of dollars to remove graphic deepfake content that has been posted without her consent. Despite those efforts, it is an issue she still has to deal with on a regular basis.
“Fuck the fucking Internet,” she said during her Monday stream. “Fuck the constant objectification and exploitation of women, it’s exhausting.”
“Fuck Atrioc for showing it to thousands of people,” she continued. “Fuck the people DMing me pictures of myself from that website.”
The Objectification of Female Streamers
Blaire said that it “should not be a part of [her] job” to constantly fight for this content to be removed from the Internet, nor should it be her job to deal with the onslaught of harassment that comes with the dissemination of these fabricated images.
“If you are able to look at women who are not selling themselves or benefiting off of being seen sexually — they’re not benefiting, they’re not selling it, they’re not platforming it themselves — if you are able to look at that, you are the problem,” she said. “You see women as an object.”
On Twitter, she explained that the repercussions of these deepfakes go far beyond exploitation and violation.
“The amount of body dysmorphia I’ve experienced since seeing those photos has ruined me,” she said.
She was far from the only person to call out how invasive it is to post or consume deepfake content of people who did not consent to being depicted in a sexual manner.
“Stop sexualizing people without their consent,” Pokimane, who is also among the female streamers featured on the site, said. “That’s it, that’s the tweet.”
“No one should have themselves be put on a deepfake porn website w/o their consent and it’s fucking disgusting at the men who are making light of this shit. fucking despicable,” another person wrote.
Britney Spears Asks For Privacy After Fans Called Cops to Conduct a Wellness Check on Her
Fans said they were concerned after the singer deleted her Instagram account.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to include a statement from Britney Spears
Fans Call 911
Britney Spears said her fans “went a little too far” after some called the police to conduct a wellness check on her.
The fans, many fueled by online conspiracy theories, were concerned about Spears because she deleted her Instagram account. While this is something the singer has done multiple times in the past, her fans thought she had left secret signals in her last post suggesting she needed help.
Some even posted videos of them calling emergency services on TikTok, a platform that is full of conspiracy videos about Spears.
“I love and adore my fans but this time things went a little too far and my privacy was invaded,” Spears wrote in a statement on Thursday, citing “prank phone calls” that were made to police.
According to Spears, officers did not enter her home because once they got to her gate, they “quickly realized there was no issue and left immediately.”
“This felt like I was being gaslit and bullied once the incident made it to the news and being portrayed once again in a poor and unfair light by the media,” Spears continued. “During this time in my life, I truly hope the public and my fans who I care so much about can respect my privacy moving forward.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Page Six that the department “did get calls into our dispatch” but added there was no reason to believe that Spears was “in any kind of harm or any kind of danger.”
That spokesperson declined to say if officials contacted Spears or conducted a wellness check, citing privacy and public trust issues.
The Prominence of Britney Spears Conspiracies
Just over a year has passed since Spears was freed from a highly restrictive conservatorship that controlled her life and finances for 13 years. Throughout the conservatorship, fans tried to use the pop icon’s social media to pick up clues that she was secretly struggling. She did not publicly speak about the conservatorship until the summer of 2021.
Now that she has her freedom, fans are still reading heavily into her posts. Some believe there are hidden messages in her captions and in the gestures she does while dancing. Others think she is dead, missing, or hiding and that a body double is being used in her posts. Some are so concerned that they are coordinating a mass effort to pressure the Los Angeles Times into investigating Spears’ whereabouts and safety.
In the last several years, many have reflected on Spears’ early days in the spotlight and the cruel ways she was harassed and targeted by paparazzi, news outlets, and culture at large. Often the punchline to a joke throughout the 2000s, many now sympathize with Spears, who was forced to endure heavy public scrutiny at a young age. Documentaries like “Framing Britney Spears” prompted many to see Spears as a victim of abusive media tactics, not the “crazy” woman tabloids painted her to be.
Many are now concerned that fans are only going to subject Spears to a new onslaught of harassment by calling the police to her house. Even if the conspiracy theories are technically well-intentioned and often come from a place of concern, some believe they will jumpstart a media frenzy that could harm Spears’ mental well-being.