How did such a violation of The Flag Code come about? Wikipedia's entry on the Washington Monument provides clues.
Since 1920, Forty eight American flags (one for each state then in existence) were flown on wooden flag poles on Washington's birthday. Sometime later on Independence Day, Memorial Day, and other special occasions were added. Both the flags and flag poles were removed and stored between these days
In 1958 fifty 25-foot (7.6 m) tall aluminum flag poles (anticipating Alaska and Hawaii) were installed, evenly spaced around a 260-foot (79 m) diameter circle. Since Washington's birthday 1958, 48 American flags were flown on a daily basis, increasing to 49 flags on July 4, 1959, and then to 50 flags since July 4, 1960. When 48 and 49 flags were flown, only 48 and 49 flag poles of the available 50 were placed into base receptacles.
All flags were removed and stored overnight.
Since July 4, 1971, 50 American flags have flown 24 hours a day.
During 2004–05, the diameter of the circle was reduced to 240 feet (73 m).
This is a longer story than I have planned for this column today. Details are available in Washington Monument reference 92: Michael D. Hoover, The origins and history of the Washington Monument flag display, 1992
As usual, the bad guys include Congress and Richard M. Nixon