WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday praised two African-American athletes after they recently defended him in public.
Trump's public praise comes amid his continued disapproval of NFL players, most of them African-American, who kneel during the national anthem to protest police treatment of black men. It also follows his recent criticism of NBA star LeBron James.
Tiger Woods, a friend and sometime golf partner of Trump, called Sunday for respect for the office of the president.
Asked how he'd respond to people who are intrigued by his "friendly relationship" with Trump, Woods told reporters: "He's the president of the United States and you have to respect the office. And no matter who's in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office."
Trump responded Monday by praising Woods and criticizing journalists. "The Fake News Media worked hard to get Tiger Woods to say something that he didn't want to say. Tiger wouldn't play the game - he is very smart. More importantly, he is playing great golf again!" Trump said on Twitter.
The president also expressed gratitude to former NFL player Jim Brown, who defended Trump after the Hall of Famer was asked if he is concerned with the message coming from the White House against the league.
"I should be criticizing Trump on every level because he does certain things that call for criticism. But when I look at television and I see all of these announcers become experts and they're pointing their fingers, and they're not doing a doggone thing but pointing their fingers, I find myself really pulling for the president," Brown said last week during an appearance on "The JT The Brick Show" on Fox Sports Radio.
Brown acknowledged that his comment "will make me very unpopular in the black community, very unpopular with a lot of Americans. But I think there are certain good things that are coming out of this presidency because we've never seen anything like it."
Trump tweeted Monday: "Thank you to the great @JimBrownNFL32, perhaps the greatest running back of all time, for your wonderful words and support. Since our meeting in New York, African-American UNEMPLOYMENT has reached the LOWEST LEVEL IN HISTORY. You get it!"
The connection between Brown and African-American unemployment was unclear. And, while black unemployment did hit a record low of 5.9 percent in May, the rate has since risen to 6.6 percent in July.
Trump and Brown met in New York after the 2016 presidential election.