Fourth of July: Media’s history of bashing America, symbols of democracy

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As Americans fired up grills across the nation to gather with loved ones to celebrate Independence Day this past weekend, Fox News Digital took a look back at corporate media pundits and columnists who have showed they are not swelling with pride about living in the United States. 

The media, and celebrities alike, have a long history of bashing America and symbols of democracy, typically when trying to make a political point that condemns conservative ideology. Last week, Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong said he would renounce his U.S. citizenship and move to England because he is so upset over the Supreme Court overturning landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade.

“F— America, I’m f—ing renouncing my citizenship,” Armstrong said during a London concert. “I’m f—ing coming here.” 

Outspoken rock stars are not the only liberal public figures to condemn America, its flag and what it stands for. In recent memory, pro athletes kneeling during the national anthem have been celebrated, the Supreme Court has been vilified, liberals have attempted to redesign the American flag and the significance of July 4 has been downplayed altogether.  

NYT, MSNBC’S MARA GAY: ‘DISTURBING’ TO SEE ‘DOZENS OF AMERICAN FLAGS’ ON LONG ISLAND 

Fourth of July: Media's history of bashing America, symbols of democracy

The media, and celebrities alike, have a long history of bashing America and symbols of democracy.
(Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Last year, in one of the more notable examples in recent memory, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay went on MSNBC to declare that she witnessed the “disturbing” sight of American flags during a visit to Long Island in New York. 

The Times columnist appeared on “Morning Joe” and spoke about how “Americanness” and “Whiteness” need to be separated. 

“I was on Long Island this weekend visiting a really dear friend, and I was really disturbed,” Gay said. “I saw, you know, dozens and dozens of pickup trucks with [expletives] against Joe Biden on the back of them, Trump flags, and in some cases just dozens of American flags, which is also just disturbing… Essentially the message was clear. ‘This is my country. This is not your country. I own this.’” 

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Gay received swift backlash on social media for her condemnation of the American flag, but critics were off-base according to a statement released by her employer.

“New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay’s comments on MSNBC have been irresponsibly taken out of context,” the Times said. “Her argument was that Trump and many of his supporters have politicized the American flag.”

The View co-host Sunny Hostin rushed to Gay’s defense as proud Americans condemned the columnist.

“I’m so surprised, actually, that she is receiving this kind of backlash,” Hostin said. “When someone of color, a Black woman, is telling you her feelings, people need to listen and not repudiate it and not say, ‘Well, that can’t be true.’”

Fourth of July: Media's history of bashing America, symbols of democracy

New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay once shocked by going on MSNBC to declare that she witnessed the "disturbing" sight of American flags during a visit to Long Island in New York.
(New York Times)

A few weeks later, the New York Times published a piece by staff writer Sarah Maslin Nir headlined, “A Fourth of July Symbol of Unity That May No Longer Unite,” which declared Americans “now make assumptions, true and sometimes false, about people who conspicuously display American flags.”

The story featured a potato farmer who had been told by customers they were “apprehensive of interacting” because he proudly flies the American flag. 

“Thirteen stripes, a dusting of stars, the American flag has had infinite meanings over the 244 years since the country began flying one. Raised at Iwo Jima, it was a symbol of victory. Lit on fire, it became a searing image of the protests against the Vietnam War. Ribboned around the Twin Towers on commemorative Sept. 11 lapel pins, it is a reminder of the threats against a delicate democracy,” Maslin Nir wrote. “Politicians of both parties have long sought to wrap themselves in the flag. But something may be changing: Today, flying the flag from the back of a pickup truck or over a lawn is increasingly seen as a clue, albeit an imperfect one, to a person’s political affiliation in a deeply divided nation.”

The piece continued: “What was once a unifying symbol — there is a star on it for each state, after all — is now alienating to some, its stripes now fault lines between people who kneel while ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ plays and those for whom not pledging allegiance is an affront.”

CNN’s “New Day” then aired a segment on the Times piece in which liberal host Brianna Keilar read directly from the article. 

Fourth of July: Media's history of bashing America, symbols of democracy

The New York Times published a piece by staff writer Sarah Maslin Nir headlined, "A Fourth of July Symbol of Unity That May No Longer Unite," which declared Americans "now make assumptions, true and sometimes false, about people who conspicuously display American flags."
(iStock)

Additionally, the Times published an opinion essay last year that imagined new designs for the American flag, some of which emphasized divisions and decline in the country.

“The American flag is a potent piece of national iconography, but its design shifted frequently until the early 1900s. What if it were redesigned today? We asked artists and graphic designers to try,” the Times wrote. “Some are functional designs, others artistic renderings; some represent America as it could be, others how the artist sees the country now.”

One design from Andrew Kuo showed a flag split into four rectangles with one square consisting of red and white stripes while the other three are solid blue, yellow, and green rectangles. According to the artist, the red stripes represented the past, the white stripes represented the future, while the solid colors represented “untapped potential,” “repairing systemic racism,” and “taking care of our planet.” 

Other ideas for a new American flag featured several prominent flags like the “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Black Lives Matter” merged into one, while another monochrome, gray one with stars “represents America surrendering to its fall from power and loss of the ideals it once stood for.”

In June 2021, then-MSNBC host Brian Williams called America “broken” before promoting an advertisement from the disgraced Lincoln Project that compared Antifa to the Americans who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi had a similar take when he tweeted, “Friend points out on D-Day anniversary that the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy were the true and original antifa.” 

Fourth of July: Media's history of bashing America, symbols of democracy

"The View" co-host Sunny Hostin
(Reuters/Danny Moloshok)

In 2020, the left spent significant time celebrating the destruction of statues of now-frowned upon Americans that were being toppled amid civil unrest. 

On “The View,” Hostin declared that statues of Founding Father such as George Washington might not deserve to be honored because of ties to slavery. 

USA Today was a few years ahead of the statue movement when it pondered in 2017 why Christopher Columbus statues were not being toppled along with those commemorating Confederate leaders. 

“While historians caution against lumping in Columbus with Confederates who came three centuries later, they say Columbus’ holiday and monuments remain ripe for reassessment — whether they stay, change or vanish entirely,” USA Today’s Josh Hafner wrote. 

“Many Americans think that if something terrible happens, the best way to be patriotic is to try to forget about it as soon as possible,” NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss said on MSNBC last year during coverage marking 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre, before oddly saying Americans who want to move on from the COVID pandemic are unpatriotic. 

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“This is something I’m even worried about in a totally different category, our pandemic with COVID. In 1920 after the influenza pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans, tens of millions of others around the world, Americans, the second the pandemic seemed to be over, they wanted to forget about it as soon as possible,” Beschloss continued. “I would bet you, also, that a little bit more than a year ago more Americans had never heard of this terrible influenza… because people were so eager to forget. My point is that we’re more patriotic to remember and try to make this a better country. 

NewsBusters recently published a plethora of “recent and not-so-recent examples of journalists trashing the United States on its birthday” ahead of July 4 weekend. 

Among the examples were a National Geographic writer declaring, “Not everyone is equally at risk from the noxious particles that suffuse the sky during our pyrotechnic light shows. In California, for example, vulnerable populations are more exposed to fireworks pollution on the Fourth of July …  vulnerable populations appear to be more exposed to this pollution.” 

Fourth of July: Media's history of bashing America, symbols of democracy

Not everyone is a fan of fireworks during Independence Day celebrations.
(Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2019, “CBS This Morning” discussed the July 4 rally in Washington, D.C., when Margaret Brennan told viewers some feel it “overemphasized America’s military might” and “underplayed the American values that have been used to justify the use of force.”

NewsBusters also pointed out that in 1994, Matt Lauer asked if America was an “inherently racist place” on July 4. The conservative media watchdog also unearthed a 2019 New York Times op-ed titled, “Why America is Just Okay.” 

Between polarizing issues related to gun control and abortion, unpatriotic takes have been plentiful in recent months. 

In May, longtime NBC Sports football writer Peter King referred to America as the “United States of Guns” in a piece that was supposed to be about football but was published on the heels of the tragic Texas school shooting. 

“Our country is sick,” he wrote. 

Earlier this month, “The View” co-host Sara Haines declared she recently learned the meaning of Juneteenth and now feels it is “more authentic” than Independence Day. 

“How did I not know about this? That we were celebrating Fourth of July which was freedom of America, when freedom of American people didn’t happen until Juneteenth,” she asked. “So, in some ways, the celebration feels more authentic on Juneteenth.”

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Hostin responded that her family “never celebrated” July 4. 

Unpatriotic takes poured in last week after the Supreme Court irked liberals by overturning Roe v. Wade. 

CNN’s Jim Acosta said the United States is not in “stellar company” and claimed only El Salvador, Nicaragua, Poland have rolled back abortion rights since 1994 before a guest notified him that most European countries do not need to roll anything back because abortions are banned after 12 or 13 weeks in most nations. 

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Lindsay Kornick and Lorraine Taylor contributed to this report.

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