White House provides convenient cover for Olympic qualifier Gwen Berry amid growing backlash

The White House is sparking backlash after coming out in support of a U.S. Olympic qualifier who turned her back on the American flag during a medal ceremony while the national anthem played on Saturday.

In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she hadn’t spoken to President Joe Biden specifically about the incident, but that he is “incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform all around the world.”

Psaki also suggested Gwen Berry had reasons to protest.

“He would also say, of course, that part of that pride in our country means recognizing there are moments where we are, as a country, haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, and that means respecting the rights of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest,” Psaki said.

But Berry’s act drew plenty of criticism, including from lawmakers like former U.S. Navy SEAL and Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who lost one of his eyes in combat after multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We don’t need any more activist athletes,” Crenshaw told Fox News on Monday, referencing a t-shirt Berry placed over her head as the anthem played that said “Activist Athlete.”

“She should be removed from the team. The entire point of the Olympic team is to represent the United States of America. That’s the entire point,” he continued.

“It’s one thing when these NBA players do it, okay fine, we’ll just stop watching,” Crenshaw added. “But now the Olympic team? And it’s multiple cases of this. They should be removed. That should be the bare minimum requirement is that you believe in the country you’re representing.”

“IM SICK & TIRED OF THE DISRESPECT,” wrote comedian Terrence K. Williams in a Twitter post containing a video where he takes the Olympian to task. “A US hammer thrower Gwen Berry turned away from the American flag as the national anthem played If America is so bad and racist how did this black woman make it to the US Olympics ? Ungrateful.”

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!” Williams said in the video. “How dare you disrespect America on the national stage!”

“I don’t think it’s too much, when athletes are competing to wear the Stars and Stripes — to compete under the Stars and Stripes in the Olympics — for them to simply honor that flag and our anthem on the medal stand,” Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom, Cotton, himself a former Army infantry officer and Iraq vet, told “Fox News Primetime” Monday evening.

“If Ms. Berry is so embarrassed by America, then there’s no reason she needs to compete for our country. She should be removed from the Olympic team,” he added.

“I’d hate to be an athlete like [former NFL quarterback Colin] Kaepernick or Gwen Berry who are more known for their drama than their athletic talent. They should do theatre,” wrote Christian Walker, son of NFL legend and mixed martial arts athlete Hershel Walker, on Twitter.

“There are 194 countries Gwen Berry could go represent if she hates America so much,” added documentary filmmaker Errol Webber, who is also black.

Berry took a beautiful moment for the Olympic team and “made it all about herself,” Fox News’s “The Five” co-host Jesse Watters observed.

“She was third,” Watters said of Berry’s placement behind Gold and Silver medal winners DeAnna Price and Brooke Andersen, respectively.

“That was their moment. That was the country’s moment to reflect on a great event and instead, poisoned the chemistry of the female track and field squad and she made it all about herself,” Watters said. “She drew attention from them in the country to herself and it was negative attention.”

“Gwen Berry is lucky to live in a country where she can act like a petulant child. She’d be in a gulag if she had protested the Chinese anthem,” added another user.

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Jon Dougherty

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