A few weeks into the 2011 NFL season, noted political extremist Hank Williams Jr. appeared on Fox and Friends and compared President Barack Obama to Hitler. When asked about Obama playing a round of golf with then Speaker of the House John Boehner, Williams replied: “It’d be like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
ESPN quickly pulled Williams’ iconic “All My Friends Are Here on Monday Night” intro from its Monday Night Football broadcasts, presumably for eternity.
Well, not so fast.
Today the network announced that Williams would be back after this season asking the audience if they’re ready for some football with an updated version of the song.
It’s a curious move by ESPN. Williams refused to apologize for the Obama-Hitler comparison, and went on to call Obama “a Muslim who hates Cowboys.”
ESPN has recently come under storm by some in the Williams sect for its perceived liberal leanings, though that makes it no different than any news organization in 2017 not named Fox or Breitbart. Sadly bringing back Williams has the drippings of trying to shave that image by placating to the right. Was Steve Bannon allowed to play ESPN president for a day for some reason?
In the grand scheme of things an intro song to a football game is pretty irrelevant – NBC’s version is basically two minutes of publicity for Carrie Underwood’s leg workout – but certain actions have ramifications. Coincidentally, noted racist Curt Schilling’s revelatory social media firestorm became enflamed when he literally drew from Williams’ playbook, making distorted Muslim and Nazi analogies. Schilling was eventually fired from ESPN as his public views were consistently extreme and offensive. Yet somehow William is being embraced with open arms.
I don’t get it, and I’m guessing the throes of real journalists who were recently laid off don’t either.