The media has been buzzing all week long about the recent blunder by Bocephus himself, legendary country music star Hank Williams, Jr.
In a recent interview on Fox & Friends, the conversation about the GOP presidential candidates took a turn when asked which candidate he favored. Instead of answering directly, Williams brought up the subject of this summer’s golf game between President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner. When asked about it, Williams made the following comment:
“That would be like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. Not hardly. In the shape this country is in?”
He tried to clarify his point to Fox & Friends correspondent Brian Kilmeade by explaining, “They’re the enemy… Obama! And Biden! Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.” This did not seem to clarify anything for anyone involved. Let the overreactions begin.
All Williams was trying to do was make an analogy that two people who are polar opposites, enemies, or in this case political opponents, would never be out having a good time together on the golf course. The fact that Obama and Boehner did while the country declines even further sends the wrong message, in Williams’ opinion. His analogy was clumsy at best, but it seems that the media has grossly overreacted and made something out of nothing.
This is not the first time that someone has made the comparison between a U.S. president and Hitler, just ask former president George W. Bush, and it certainly will not be the last. Referring to someone as a Hitler is simply another way of saying, “I don’t like this person.” So why is this instance such a big deal? It seems sort of like a life-imitating-art-imitating-life type of question. Is the media’s reaction simply a reflection of our society’s current hypersensitive state, or is it fueling our hypersensitivity?
Just last month, heavyweight champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson made violent and sexually graphic comments about Sarah Palin. His comments were far more offensive than anything Williams said, yet the story received virtually no media attention except from Fox News host Greta Van Susteren. Now Williams is the one suffering the blowback, while Mike Tyson’s life is unchanged.
ESPN made the decision to pull the Monday Night Football theme song off the air following his comments, a song that Williams has produced for them since 1989 when he was contracted to revamp his “All My Rowdy Friends” song for the 20th anniversary of Monday Night Football. But was this drastic action necessary or merely an overreaction to the media attention this story received? It is looking more and more like the media’s manipulation of the story is to blame – that and the lack of a publicist.
Williams released an apology on his own website:
“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 made 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.”
The gross disregard for the rules of grammar and capitalization leave little doubt that Williams acted alone, but it raises another question. Where was his publicist in all of this? His comment is not the most vitriolic statement ever made by celebrity – just ask the Dixie Chicks or Madonna. The Dixie Chicks were completely ostracized as traitors while Madonna’s statement against John McCain is virtually unheard of. Regardless, the entire situation seems like it could have been easily handled by anyone experienced in public relations, if he had allowed them to handle it. Instead, he chose to go rogue and that decision alone may have cost him his job with ESPN more than anything he actually said.