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“This was Not written by some Publicist.”

Let’s pretend you’re a country music artist a little past your prime. Someone asks you a question on TV about politics. The right time to mention Hitler? No! It is not!

Yet that’s what Nashville star Hank Williams Jr. did on Fox & Friends Monday morning. These days, Williams is best known for performing the intro to Monday Night Football on ESPN. (He’s the guy who barks, “ARE YOUR READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?”)

In the interview Monday, Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson asked a question about President Obama golfing with House Speaker John Boehner. Williams answered: “Come on. It would be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.” Watch as the Fox & Friends crew reacts to this extremely awkward exchange:

(Direct link to video.)

What happened next was a series of back-and-forth statements between Williams and ESPN, which ultimately ended in Williams’ song being permanently pulled from the broadcasts.

ESPN made the first move Monday. In response to Williams’ Fox comments, the Disney-owned network released this statement:

“While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”

Williams hit back on his website with a non-apology, saying, “Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood.” And then an actual apology:

“I have always been very passionate about Politics and Sports and this time it got the Best or Worst of me. The thought of the Leaders of both Parties Jukin and High Fiven on a Golf course, while so many Families are Struggling to get by simply made me Boil over and make a Dumb statement and I am very Sorry if it Offended anyone. I would like to Thank all my supporters. This was Not written by some Publicist.”

I believe the last sentence of that post. It’s also a pretty strong argument in favor of publicists.

ESPN followed up yesterday with another statement, firing Williams for good:

“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”

I suspect this was a very easy decision. That country song is one of the more annoying sports intros on TV, and gets increasingly dated every season.

Williams isn’t going quietly, though. On his website yesterday, he published yet another post about the controversy, jabbing back at ESPN:

“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.”

There’s been some minor Tea Party griping about this—the usual Disney-is-a-liberal-corporation nonsense—but it’s pretty hard to come to Hank’s defense here. It was all fun and games, but he had to bring up Hitler!

I’d like to close this post with a reminder that Hank Williams Jr. was not always such a loser. He recorded some great all-American drinking songs. He should stick with that.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Lyrics, Politics, Television

One comment

  1. dbryan says:

    Hitler last time i checked was dead. It seems to me that this interview was suppose to be about 20 Years of Hank JR. And the accompishments he made to promote Monday Night Football. 20 Years ago Monday Night Football asked Hank JR. to get them more people to not only watch but have a reason to go out to a sports bar and watch. And the numbers support that. If not they would have not keep him onboard and that is a fact. So it is beyond me that he should have been asked political questions from the jump start. As well i believe he was under the impression that he was on for his making Monday Night Football what it was. As well a chance to promo Hank Sr.s New c.d. He got bush whacked and that was obvious. You could see his thoughts of disrespct. Com on Man this is just another job killer. Went around local bars ussually packed. NoBody. Why people were fst and furious about this b.s. And the ratings will show ,maynot to much. So the poor bar owners will get the beating. Hank Will be just fine. He has a army of real people outside of D.C. Bad move when people are already fst and furious about not having jobs. Marching and protesting everywhere. Just saying onother job and vote killer for those fast to point fingers But the killing is under the rug. Joms of middle class count. As well leave the music biz alone. Busting on Hank playing a Gibson and raiding them is idiotic . They didn’t raid Martian same wood. Just another job killer.

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