No, he doesn't appear to be kidding.

New York Times critic-at-large Stephen Holden profiles Tony Bennett on the eve of the singer’s 80th birthday and finds broader meaning:



Despite strong sales of their new album, ticket sales for the controversial Dixie Chicks’ upcoming tour have been very disappointing, so much so that some concert dates might be canceled. As reported by Reuters (hat tip to Drudge): “Ticket counts for the 20-plus arena shows that went on sale last weekend were averaging 5,000-6,000 per show in major markets and less in secondaries, according to sources contacted by Billboard. Venue capacities on the tour generally top 15,000.”

Sales are clearly below projections: “The plug was pulled on public on-sales for shows in Indianapolis (August 23), Oklahoma City (September 26), Memphis (September 27) and Houston (September 30) because of tepid pre-sales in a national promotion with Target stores.”

Despite the disappointments, there are cities which appear to support the Chicks’ political views (this is pretty funny):



Times music writer Kelefa Sanneh tosses ice on the liberal media’s celebration of the Dixie Chicks in Thursday’s “It’s Dixie Chicks vs.



In 2003, country music stations around the country boycotted the music of the Dixie Chicks, a group of three women that originated as a country ensemble. One of the members, Natalie Maines, told a London group in 2003 that she was ashamed to be from the same state as President Bush because of his starting of the Iraq war.



It's a spicy set of covers on the news magazines this week. U.S. News asks how low Bush can go in the polls. Newsweek is having another agnostic's crush on Mary Magdalene. But Time magazine wins the liberal-bias award for promoting the Dixie Chicks on its cover with the words "Radical Chicks." (Cover copy: "They criticized the war and were labeled unpatriotic.") Josh Tyrangiel's cover story begins predictably by hailing the lead singer:



Apparently it's old news week at the broadcast networks. After hyping the year-old revelation about the NSA's telephone record program, CBS has invited the Dixie Chicks, the formerly popular country music group whose penchant for spouting liberal platitudes alienated their fan base, to talk about death threats they received in 2003.

Ostensibly, the purpose of the Chicks' appearance on "60 Minutes" this Sunday is to promote a new album, but the lead of CBS's online promotional piece about the interview focuses entirely on three-year-old threats.There's apparently an effort to "make news" here most likely, but it's so feeble as to be laughable.

Any person who cuts even a slightly bigger-than-average public profile has received death threats. Doing a story on them is of questionable value; doing one on threats received in 2003 can only be attributed to the fact that the Dixie Chicks are liberal. Much-reviled conservative women like Linda Tripp or Katherine Harris both received many death threats but were never granted interviews with "60 Minutes" to talk about their experiences in a sympathetic manner.