ESPN did the right thing by cutting the cord with Hank Williams Jr. and killing his “Monday Night Football” musical intro after the singer made an analogy to Adolf Hitler while discussing Barack Obama “the enemy” on Fox News earlier this week.
Williams’ politics and disregard for Obama have been well documented since the 2008 campaign when he ripped the future president at every opportunity while stumping for the opposition.
Appearing Monday on the program “Fox & Friends,” the son of country legend Hank Williams compared a golf game between Obama and Republican Rep. John Boehner to an outing with Hitler and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
When asked to elaborate, Williams said, “They’re the enemy,” adding that by “they” he meant Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Williams’ song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” a staple on “MNF” first on ABC and then ESPN for 22 years, was initially yanked from Monday’s telecast of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts after the comments went viral.
Upon hearing that he’d no longer be featured on the weekly telecast, Williams—who earlier apologized after igniting a media furor while claiming his sentiments were misinterpreted—was indignant.
“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision,” Williams said in a statement to The Associated Press. “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.”
We get where Williams was going with the Hitler-Netanyahu analogy and while inelegant, we understand the intent to paint a picture of odd political bedfellows. It’s the part about calling the standing president and vice president “the enemy” that is more disconcerting.
There is so much hate rhetoric being directed at this administration that it is fueling the fires of political and racial discord that could well set this country back decades. At a time when people are struggling and economic inequities are so pronounced as to be laughable, it’s not going to take much to light a fuse that could burn for quite a while. That’s where the Williams-ESPN relationship comes into play.
Comments like Williams’ only add to the evergrowing combustion. If ESPN finally determined that doing business with Williams was bad business, it did the right thing by severing ties.
Goodbye to Williams and all his rowdy friends. Truth is, as ESPN noted in its statement on the breakup, “The success of ‘Monday Night Football’ has always been about the games and that will continue.”