ESPN's Decision to Cut Hank Williams Jr. From 'Monday Night Football' Met With Cheers and Jeers
Hank Williams Jr. Backtracks From Obama-Hitler Comparison
ESPN on Thursday made the decision to permanently cut country singer Hank Williams Jr. after the country star compared President Obama to Hitler.
"We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams Jr.," ESPN said in a statement. "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' song "All My Rowdy Friends" had been the opener for the franchise until this week, when ESPN pulled from last Monday's Indianapolis-Tampa Bay game after Williams likened Republican House Speaker John Boehner's recent golf outing with President Obama to "Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu" on an episode of Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends. At the time, there was no indication that it would be permanent.
Meanwhile, Williams claimed it was his decision to pull the song.
"After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision," he wrote on his website. "By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, [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."
After the news broke, several Twitter users hit the social networking site to express their opinions, which were divided in their support of ESPN and Williams.
Comedian George Lopez tweeted: "Hank Williams JR stick 2 song about dogs trucks and attraction 2 family members."
That prompted a response from Opie of SiriusXM's Opie & Anthony show: "U SAYING HE SHOULDNT HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH?"
Parks & Recreation executive producer Michael Schur, a former writer on The Office who also played Dwight's cousin Mose on the show, quipped: "I like that Hank Williams, Jr. thinks the 1st Amendment (c. 1791) guarantees one's ability to play dumb songs on ESPN before football games."
CNBC reporter John Harwood and Fox News Channel commentator Andy Levy also made jabs at Williams.
"Note to Hank Williams Jr.: First Amendment guarantees your right to speak, not your right to ESPN contract," wrote Harwood.
Added Levy: "Good to see Hank Williams Jr. join the Dixie Chicks and Dr. Laura in not quite understanding the concept of freedom of speech."
Meanwhile, Bean of Los Angeles radio station KROQ's Kevin & Bean agreed with another Twitter user's suggestion of who should replace Williams: "I know, right? @JayPallock: Why @ESPN hasn't hired Weird @AlYankovic to replace Hank Williams Jr. is beyond me."
Several other Twitters users also had passionate responses to the news, for supportive and critical of Williams. Here is a sample of tweets:
I appreciate @espn permanently pulling the Hank Williams Jr song from the #MNF opening. You don't get rewarded for talking stupid! #idiot
Bocephus gets fired!!! Is nothing sacred?
R u kidding?? @jksports: ESPN has decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr.