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NFL Apologizes for Not Listening to Black Players, Then Gets Blasted by Trump

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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)

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Former “Real Housewives” Star Bethenny Frankel Sues TikTok Over Ads Misusing Likeness

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The reality star said social media has become “a breeding ground for scams.”


TikTok Hit With Class Action Suit

Businesswoman and reality star Bethenny Frankel filed a class action lawsuit against TikTok on Thursday, accusing the social media app of platforming fraudulent ads that misuse the identities of influencers. 

According to the lawsuit, several videos “purloined the images, voices, and content” of Frankel and others in an effort “to sell counterfeit items.” 

Frankel claims that one advertisement used footage of her to make it appear as though she was endorsing a knockoff cardigan, even though she never authorized the use of her image. According to the lawsuit, Frankel attempted to warn her followers that the ad was misusing her persona, but TikTok allegedly removed that video for being “abusive.”

“Despite demands on TikTok to remove and police this corrupt conduct, TikTok has ignored such demands, and even taken countervailing positions,” the lawsuit claims. “Aside from not being compensated, the reputation and brand of Ms. Frankel and Class Members are being damaged and tarnished through unauthorized associations with counterfeit goods and other products that they do not support.”

It further alleged that TikTok is “unlawfully” allowing the use of Frankel’s “persona, voice, content, and likeness” in a manner that “constitutes unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.”

In addition to previously starring on “The Real Housewives of New York,” Frankel is also the founder of lifestyle and food brand Skinnygirl, and disaster relief initiative BStrong. 

The Wild West of Social Media

In a TikTok video last month, the former Real Housewife told her followers she was considering taking legal action against the video app. As for why she took her complaints up with TikTok as opposed to the brands behind the sham ads, she said that the bigger issue is “the wild wild west of social media.”

This is something that has to be addressed because it’s a breeding ground for scams,” she said. 

After the fake ads appeared to show Frankel giving the knockoff cardigan a thumbs up, many of her followers thought she “sold out” by “hocking” the product. According to Frankel, TikTok offers little help in repairing the issue. 

“There’s nobody to call at TikTok,” she said. “You know, calling China, you’re reporting something, it’s like small potatoes.”

After news broke that she filed the class action complaint, Frankel posted a statement to Instagram saying her demands “for creators and consumers is correct and just.”

“Consumers and creators are being exploited with no recourse or power to defend and protect themselves,” Frankel wrote. “That ends now.”

“Social media, and its impact as the most powerful medium on the planet, cannot be a reckless marketplace where people risk their rights and privacy being violated without protection.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Insider) (Reuters)

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Halyna Hutchins Family Settles With “Rust” Production, Filming to Resume in 2023

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Alec Baldwin said everyone involved was motivated by the “desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son.”


Settlement Reached

The family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on the set of “Rust” last year, reached a settlement with the production over a wrongful death lawsuit on Wednesday. 

The lawsuit was filed in February, several months after Hutchins’ death in New Mexico last October. The cast and crew were rehearsing a scene that involved producer and actor Alec Baldwin pointing a gun toward the camera. Baldwin claims he did not know it was loaded when it fired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. 

The actor also claims he did not actually pull the trigger, but investigators determined it must have been pulled. 

Hutchins’ husband Matthew filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of himself and his young son. It claimed that the production did not follow proper safety procedures and endangered the crew via reckless cost-cutting measures. Baldwin was listed as a defendant, as well as the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director, Dave Halls, and others involved with the film. 

The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but as part of the agreement, the production of “Rust” will resume in January 2023. The late cinematographer’s husband will join the project as an executive producer. 

“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he said in a statement. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”

A Tribute to Hutchins

Souza will return as the director. In a statement, he said his “every effort on this film will be devoted to honoring” Hutchins.

For his part, Baldwin shared the news of the settlement on his Instagram Wednesday morning.

“Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son,” he wrote. “We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation.”

According to The Los Angeles Times, while Gutierrez-Reed and Halls were not part of the settlement, if a judge approves it, the allegations against them will be resolved.

There is still an ongoing criminal probe happening separately from this lawsuit. It is unclear what impact the settlement will have on that, if any. 

Last month, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies sent a letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance seeking additional funding to prosecute up to four people over the incident, including Baldwin. So far, no charges have been filed. 

In April, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined the production after it found multiple safety violations on set. 

See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline)

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The Try Guys Address Removal of Ned Fulmer: “We Had No Idea This Was Going On”

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The group said that by severing ties with Fulmer, it felt like they were losing a friend. 


“That Is Not What We Stand For”

Digital comedy and sketch group The Try Guys posted a video on Monday night explaining the recent removal of member Ned Fulmer. 

Last week, the Internet was filled with speculation that Fulmer, who is married with children, was having an affair with a staffer for The Try Guys. Fulmer confirmed the reports, claiming he had a “consensual workplace relationship.” The Try Guys quickly announced that Fulmer would no longer be working with the group as the result of an internal review. 

In Monday’s video, the remaining three members, Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger, explained what led to their decision to remove Fulmer. While the trio noted there were legal issues that prevented them from sharing certain details, they wanted to be as transparent as possible. 

“On Labor Day weekend, multiple fans alerted us that they had seen Ned and an employee engaging in public romantic behavior,” Habersberger explained. “We reached out to check on that employee and Ned confirmed the reports, and since confirmed that this had been going on for some time, which was obviously very shocking to us.”

He emphasized that the rest of the group “had no idea this was going on.” 

After this, The Try Guys reached out to a variety of lawyers and HR professionals to make sure they handled the situation correctly. 

“This is something we took very seriously,” Yang said. “We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.” 

Removing Fulmer From Content

They decided to immediately remove Fulmer from work activities and hired an HR rep to conduct a review. Fulmer was also withdrawn from releases pending the results of that review. 

As part of this, his video section was erased, he was digitally taken out of some content, and he was not included in merch drops. The Try Guys said this was a long and tedious process. 

“Honestly, I want to give major props to our editing staff for how deftly they handled that,” Kornfeld said. “There are several videos that we have deemed as fully unreleasable, you will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that is a decision that has cost us lots of money.” 

“We will not be able to recoup that money,” he continued. “But it’s a decision we stand by proudly.” 

The group declined to share details of the review but claimed it found that Fulmer engaged in “conduct unbecoming” of the team. Because of this, Yang, Kornfeld, and Habersberger gave written consent on Sept. 16 to ax Fulmer as a manager and employee of The Try Guys company. 

The three said they were always planning to make a public statement about their decision, but were initially waiting out of respect to the families and employees involved. As online speculation arose, they chose to deal with it sooner. 

“We’re losing a friend, we’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with, we just made a TV show together,” Kornfeld said. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way.” 

According to the group, some upcoming videos featuring Fulmer will be edited to remove him. They said they are currently taking time to reimagine their channel. 

See what others are saying: (USA Today) (People) (Deadline)

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