Hours after country star Hank Williams Jr. stunned Fox News anchors by using a Hitler analogy to describe the chasm between President Obama and Speaker Boehner, ESPN yanked the traditional Williams open to "Monday Night Football." There was no word from the network if this was a one-time edit or a permanent ban.
On Monday afternoon, CNN political analyst Roland Martin demanded a ban on Twitter: "Hey @espn, after Hank Williams Jr likened Hitler to Obama, I DO NOT want to hear him singing on Monday Night Football. EVER." On Facebook, he added "Hank is always trying to wrap himself in the American flag. His disrespect for the office of the President of the United States is ridiculous".
Associated Press explained the hubbub on the Fox set:
In an interview Monday morning on Fox News' "Fox & Friends," Williams, unprompted, said of Obama's outing on the links with House Speaker John Boehner: "It'd be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu."
Asked by the hosts to clarify, Williams said, "They're the enemy," adding that by "they" he meant Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Anchor Gretchen Carlson later said to him, "You used the name of one of the most hated people in all of the world to describe, I think, the president." Williams replied, "Well, that is true. But I'm telling you like it is."
"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,"' the network said in a statement. "We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight's telecast."
Williams released a statement through his publicist, saying: "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."
ESPN did not say whether the intro, synonymous with "Monday Night Football" since 1989, would be used again after this week's Colts- Buccaneers game.
"Every time the media brings up the tea party it's painted as racist and extremists -- but there's never a backlash -- no outrage to those comparisons," Williams' statement continued. "Working-class people are hurting -- and it doesn't seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job -- it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change. The policies have to change."