Eric Shanks watched Donald Trump publicly criticize ESPN this week after that network’s president, Jimmy Pitaro, said it would not regularly show the national anthem before regular-season NFL games unless it is newsworthy to do so.
That long has been standard procedure for the NFL’s television partners, but Shanks, Fox Sports' president, clearly learned from Pitaro’s experience and is being more careful in terms of how he states the obvious.
Here is a transcript of an exchange between Newsday and Shanks at an event in Manhattan Thursday to promote Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” package and New York-based pregame show:
Newsday: "Tell me what your approach to showing the anthem will be this year."
Shanks: "Our approach has always been that Fox Sports, probably more than any other network, pays tribute to the military and servicemen and women with things like going to Pearl Harbor, going to Norfolk, Virginia, last year. We have big plans for Veterans’ Day this year, Thanksgiving, and more."
"So we’d really like to focus on those special events for active servicemen and veterans and then the rest of the time is routine. It’s exactly what we’ve done before."
Newsday: "Meaning you aren’t going to show it on a regular basis?"
Shanks: "I think what we’re focused on is those big events and then everything else is routine."
Newsday: "Routine being that you don’t show it on a regular basis, except for special events? Is that accurate?"
Shanks: "We’re going to say it’s routine. You can go back and look at what we’ve done routinely, but yeah."