ESPN Pulls Hank Williams Jr. Song From 'MNF' Over Hitler Remark

October 3, 2011

Bill Chappell

ESPN says it won't use Hank Williams Jr. in tonight's Monday Night Football program, after the singer compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler. Williams made the remark Monday on Fox News while talking about Obama playing golf with House Speaker John Boehner.

Appearing on Fox & Friends, Williams brought up the round of golf after being asked to weigh in on the Republican field of presidential candidates.

After answering that he liked "nobody" in the GOP field, Williams said, "You remember the golf game they had, ladies and gentlemen? Remember the golf game?

"That was one of the biggest political mistakes ever. That turned a lot of people off."

When asked what he didn't like about Obama and Boehner playing golf, Williams responded, "It'd be like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu."

Asked what he didn't like about the outing, which came in June as both parties argued over a potential government shutdown, Williams said, "They're the enemy." He then added that he was referring to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

You can watch the exchange here:

For tonight's Monday Night Football, the abrupt programming change means the broadcast will be without Williams' Emmy-winning song "All My Rowdy Friends" for the first time in 20 years. It will also lack the country singer's signature opening line, "Are you ready for some football?"

In a statement, ESPN said, "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. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight's telecast."

It was not clear whether the removal of the song would be permanent or temporary.

As a report on ESPN's website describes, the singer was given a chance to tone down his remarks toward the end of the interview on Fox, as "anchor Gretchen Carlson told Williams he used the name of one of history's most hated men to describe the president."

Williams replied, "Well that's true. But I'm telling you like it is."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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