Max Kellerman calls SEC fans who support Donald Trump ‘easy to propagandize’

During a segment on ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday morning, co-host Max Kellerman said SEC fans who support Donald Trump are “easy to propagandize” and are “almost immune to facts.”

Kellerman was extending his thoughts on comments made by co-host Stephen A. Smith earlier in the month. Smith, in an episode of “First Take” that aired Aug. 12, said if SEC football wasn’t played, the reaction from upset fans could swing the upcoming election.

“I’m going to say that it’s going to affect the politics of this nation, potentially,” Smith said. “We have to take into consideration that the president of the United States basically took the South when he won the electoral college, obviously not the popular vote. We’ve heard him come out and say, ‘It would be tremoundusly bad,’ and all this other stuff if college football was canceled. Not really accepting his role, in terms of being responsible for all of this.

“When you look at the ACC, when you look at the SEC, one could argue that was Donald Trump country,” Smith continued, pointing out the majority of schools in those conferences are located in states Trump won in 2016. “And so if they don’t have college football, and they’re economically ravaged because of the absence of college football, and the absence of that revenue from those local economies, how do we anticipate people are going to react to that?”

At the time, Kellerman responded by saying he disagreed with Smith. He brought up George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm” and compared Trump’s fan base to the sheep, who will blindly follow their leader. 

“When you have enough like that, whatever happened in the past, whatever’s happening now, whatever happens in the future doesn’t matter. Because the leader can simply say, ‘No, that’s not what happened in the past.’ And will literally change people’s memory of it. And so it doesn’t matter what occurred until now. Blame can very easily be shifted.”

Kellerman brought up Smith’s points again during Thursday’s airing of “First Take” and essentially said the same thing, just in a different way. Kellerman said SEC fans wouldn’t get upset with Trump about the lack of college football in the SEC because he believes Trump would be able to convince them it wasn’t his fault.

“Stephen A., you made the argument a couple weeks ago, you thought if SEC football wasn’t played, that could swing the general election. Because people in Trump’s base would be very upset that they didn’t have football, which is practically a religion down there. And I disagreed. Because he would simply shift blame, because the pandemic is raging. They seem to be susceptible to very low-quality information, and easy to propagandize and almost immune to facts,” Kellerman said. “Because, as Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s adviser, said, they have alternative facts. And if they stay in their propaganda silos — like the Fox News propaganda silo — it wouldn’t matter what happened because they’d say the handling of the pandemic has been great. The handling of the pandemic has been the worst in the industrialized democratic world, by far. By far, in the United States, at a federal level, it’s been a disaster. And as a result we’re dealing with this pandemic. And yet, I didn’t think that would affect voters because the blame would be shifted.”

The reason Kellerman brought that topic back up is because he was using it to make another point. The ESPN analyst explained that if the NFL ends up not playing football, then that could have an impact on the election. Kellerman believes this because the NFL fan base isn’t as narrowed down as SEC football.

“If the NFL doesn’t play football, I think the NFL players have a lot of power here. If they don’t play football, at a certain point, the core will remain. But the football base goes all throughout the country,” Kellerman said. “It doesn’t just hit one or another’s political base, but insofar as there’s a such thing as swing voters still, it would absolutely affect some of them. If the NFL season isn’t played or it’s interrupted, as a result of social justice issues — and of course we all understand this is all against the backdrop of the pandemic. … I know we exist in this sports bubble and we have this outsized idea of the effect of sports, but I think that might actually have political consequences in a general election.”

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