Monday, October 3, 2011

State Run Sports Media Network ESPN Removes Hank Williams Jr. Song From Monday Night Football Opening

Editor's Note: I understand the position taken by ESPN; I am simply here to point out the media hypocrisy. I hope this issue is resolved and Williams' song returned to its appropriate place next Monday.

ESPN, the network that has brought you President Barack Obama’s “March Madness” brackets every year since his inauguration, decided that Hank Williams Jr. went too far.

After 20 years of opening Monday Night Football on ABC or ESPN, Williams’ well-known pigskin-revised rendition of “All My Rowdy Friends” was replaced by The Star Spangled Banner, as performed by "Sister Hazel."

During an interview with Fox News Channel “Fox and Friends” Monday morning, Williams made a comparison that did not sit well with management at the Connecticut based sports network, which is known by many to have an “East-Coast bias” in its reporting and broadcasting.

The Disney / ABC owned network did not take kindly to Williams’ statement that he thought Speaker of the House 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?"

Told by anchor Brian Kilmeade that he (Kilmeade) 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, Williams said: "Obama. And Biden. Are you kidding? The Three Stooges."

Boehner played golf with Obama in June at the height of the national budget debate in Washington, D.C.

Williams, from Tennessee, has said he would run as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

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.

ESPN issued the following statement regarding their decision to pull Williams’ fan-favorite from their broadcast:

"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."

Through his publicist, Williams issued the following statement regarding the situation:

"Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood. My analogy was extreme -- but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me -- how ludicrous that pairing was. They're polar opposites and it made no sense. They don't see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the president."

This is (no pun intended) an interesting position for the sports network, given its lack of condemnation of former Heavyweight Boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson.

Like Williams, Tyson is not an ESPN employee.

Tyson recently made his feelings about former Alaska Governor and Vice-Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin known during an appearance on ESPN radio’s “Gridlock. When asked about the allegations put forward in an unauthorized biography that Palin had once had an affair with basketball player Glenn Rice (a Black man), Tyson went on an obscene rant [parental advisory] that can be heard here .

In a completely unrelated story, ESPN Paul Azinger was recently reprimanded by ESPN for his Twitter comments regarding President Obama’s golf outings, most specifically his aforementioned outing with Speaker John Boehner during the “Debt Ceiling” talks.

In the wake of Azinger’s social media commentary, ESPN ‘reminded” the golf analyst that his venture into political punditry violated the company’s updated social network policy for on-air talent and reporters. “Paul’s tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field,” spokesman Andy Hall said in a statement.

This blogger did an independent search on YouTube for “george w bush espn brackets” and found no worthwhile results. I do not recall the network ever taking interest in the former President’s opinion on March Madness as much as it has requested that of our current President.

To be fair, President Bush is known to be an avid baseball fan, so I did a search for “espn george w bush baseball” and found this interview the network did with Mr. Bush regarding the state of baseball affairs.

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Just a conservative girl said...

I personally hate Hitler analogies. He isn't putting anyone in ovens or gas chambers and the comparision is false and ignornant.

Should have they replaced the song? Maybe not, but it wasn't appropiate analogy to make.

Soloman said...


I pride myself on recognizing the extreme rhetoric when it comes from the left, and parsing and explaining media bias. Here the media bias is blatant, and while I don't wholly condemn Williams' statement in my piece, I agree with your comments which is why I began my piece with my "editor's note."

Sadly Williams is guilty of reading many of the hyper-partisan blogs and listening to some extreme rhetoric, and then not thinking before speaking.

His flaw has also been mine in the past, to some degree.

In addition to the changes in my personal matters, I also came to recognize (with some advice from family) that perhaps I was occasionally over-the-top.

I continue to make the effort to be less hyperbolic, which hopefully gives me more credibility.

Anonymous said...

@JACG: Agreed - it was completely inappropriate and should not have been said.

@Soloman: This has been blown so far out of proportion it's just ridiculous. The Hitler analogy - and only the Hitler analogy - is what forced ESPN to pull the Hank Williams, Jr. song from the air this week. Now the media is eating this up because that's what they do. They take anything they can find and turn it into something to rip the other side to shreds. This blog is now just as guilty as the rest of the media for following suit. Simple as that.

Sarah Palin has a serpent's heart said...

I never liked Hank Williams, his dad was cool but Jr. sucks.

I remember when Jr's half sister wanted a piece of her father's estate. Old Hank died before he could include her in his will. Jr and his full sister pulled every trick in the book to keep her from her rightful inheritance.

Soloman said...


ESPN was not "forced" to pull Williams song. They made a choice.

I do not intend to come across as snarky, but there is a big difference.

As I pointed out in my post, ESPN recently reprimanded golf analyst Paul Azinger for entering the fray of political punditry. I began my discussion of that issue with the sarcastic statement "In a completely unrelated story." Perhaps I need to download sarcasm font (not available for Windows), or learn to use [/sarcasm] after I intend to paint that tone into my writing.

Anyway... related to the Azinger reprimand... by pulling the Hank Williams Jr. song while not even putting out a press release about Mike Tyson's dispicable comments, I believe ESPN is guilty of the same political punditry of which they scolded their analyst of just a few weeks ago.

Some may say I have a biased interpretation based on my conservative political beliefs; so be it. As far as I am concerned, facts are facts.

The way I see it, ESPN has decided to "protect" President Obama by pulling hank Jr.'s song while allowing a female conservative politian (Palin) to be disparaged on their airwaves.

Some will choose to "boycott" MNF for a period, or forever, for their own reasons. Those reasons may or may not be related to Hank Williams Jr. and his comment or ESPN's actions in the aftermath.

I will not boycott, because I enjoy the sport of football and MNF happens to be an opportunity for me to watch the sport I enjoy. I do not care for Keith Olbermann and his politics, but his presence on NBC's Sunday Night Football did not stop me from watching those games.

I am not trying to blow the issue out of proportion. All I am asking for is consistency. As I stated in the first sentence before the actual blog post began, my purpose was to point out hypocrisy on the part of media which now, in my humble opinion, also includes one particular network in the sports media.

And as I also said, I hope ESPN uses Hank Jr.'s song to open next Monday's game and the whole issue just goes away.

Thank you for stopping by.

Soloman said...

serpent's heart...

I don't know all that much about Hank Williams. I know more of Hank Jr.'s music than his fathers. I know Hank Jr. and Kid Rock did an awesome special for CMT that is one of my all-time favorite collections of music.

Whatever events took place between the family members is their business and does not impact my opinion about this media bias incident.

Thanks for stopping by.