Monday, October 10, 2011

Fire ESPN's Treatment of Hank Williams Jr.

ESPN took Williams Jr.'s words too literally.
ESPN and Hank Williams Jr. have parted ways, ending the latter's 20-year-run as the theme-song voice of Monday Night Football. ESPN pulled the plug on Williams' song "All my Rowdy Friends" after Williams made some comments that ESPN decided were controversial. ESPN is flat wrong in this decision, so we're firing ESPN's firing of Williams.

During an October 3 interview on Fox News, Williams compared House Speaker John Boehner (R) and President Barack Obama (D) meeting on a golf course to Hitler going 18 holes with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

ESPN took immediate action, pulling "All My Rowdy Friends" from the MNF broadcast that night, then announced on October 6 that it would no longer be using the song. Williams has since apologized for the analogy but said he, in fact, chose to end his relationship with ESPN and MNF, not the other way around. 

ESPN overreacted here. Sure, Williams' analogy was clumsy and dumb, but he also didn't say Obama literally = Hitler. If he had, ESPN would have been right to axe the song. Williams Jr. was simply trying to say that Boehner and Obama are diametric opposites, and as is, ESPN looks a bunch of hypersensitive sqaushers of free speech.

There's no question that people throw Hitler's name around way, way too much when discussing politics in modern America, but this instance is one of very few when mentioning him wasn't a big deal. ESPN can't repair its relationship with Williams, but let's hope they don't behave so reactively the next time someone they pay says something dumb.


  1. I don't care if ESPN fired Hank or the other way around. No one in there right mind should be using Hitler's name to describe anyone in our Federal or State government, let alone the President or the Speaker. I hope he was called on that one by Fox News while on the air. That is very wrong!