Three days after the country music singer Hank Williams Jr. referred to Hitler while talking about President Obama, ESPN decided 10/6 to permanently cut his opening song to “Monday Night Football.”
ESPN first dropped the iconic “Are you ready for some football?” song (an adaptation from his “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight”) from its presentation of the Colts-Buccaneers game Monday night in response to Williams’s remarks, and then internally weighed what further action would be taken.
ESPN said Thursday in a statement it was its decision to end a long association with Williams: “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.”
Williams Jr. responded on his website: “After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made my decision. By pulling my opening Oct. 3, 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.”
Of course, ESPN is complexly within its rights to pull the song as a private company.
Williams, who was called on “Fox & Friends” to talk about the GOP candidates in 2012, said he thought House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner playing golf with President Obama “would be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu … In the shape this country is in?”
Boehner played golf with Obama in June at the height of the national budget debate in Washington, D.C.
Told by anchor Brian Kilmeade that he didn’t understand the analogy, Williams said: “I’m glad you don’t, brother, because a lot of people do. They’re the enemy.”
Asked who the enemy was, Williams said: “Obama. And Biden. Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.”
Later in the Fox interview with Williams, anchor Gretchen Carlson told Williams he used the name of one of history’s most hated men to describe the president.
“Well, that’s true. But I’m telling you like it is,” Williams said. “Working-class people are hurting — and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job – it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change.”
RBR-TVBR observation: We got a lot of comments on the original story as to why ESPN decided to take a stance on this, either way, considering it was not even said on their network. But who knows what sort of comments (and from whom) they had been receiving on their end. Most likely most of them were in favor of pulling the song. Perhaps if Williams had issued a true apology, it could have been different.