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Don Lemon: Trump trying to force patriotism like an autocrat

CNN host Don Lemon blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE late Tuesday for disinviting the Philadelphia Eagles from the White House over national anthem protests in which none of the players participated.

Trump is “demanding forced patriotism just as autocrats have done for centuries,” Lemon said.

Lemon pointed out that not a single Eagles player took a knee or stayed in the locker room during the national anthem throughout the NFL’s regular season in 2017.

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Trump, however, decided to scrap a planned visit to the White House when he learned “an embarrassingly small number of coaches and players would actually attend,” Lemon said.

“President Trump threw himself a party today after nobody else would come,” Lemon said of Trump’s self-described “Celebration of America” event on the South Lawn.

The brief ceremony, met by protesters, capped off a day of the president’s attacks on the NFL.

Trump said during the event that athletes should stand during the national anthem.

“Maybe it’s about time that we understood: We stand to honor our military, and to honor our country, and to remember the fallen heroes who never made it back home,” Trump said. “We stand to show our love for our fellow citizens and our magnificent Constitution.”

The CNN host also played a clip of Trump in the fall of 2017 saying NFL owners should fire players who protested police brutality and racial injustice during the anthem.

“Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired,' " Trump said at a rally in Alabama.

Lemon, however, said Trump is the one who is being disrespectful.

“Who is stomping all over the values we hold dear as Americans, the values, the freedoms that American heroes have fought and died for?” he asked. “Who is doing that?”