Monday, October 17, 2011

HWJ Benched

Does anyone remember a TV program with Bill Maher - "Politically Incorrect"? Someone thought it would be fun to get the opinions (mostly political) of people who were famous for reasons OTHER then their associations with the political/news media world. I tried watching it a few times, but really just couldn't stomach the idea of people, famous though they might be, being rich in spite of their, shall we say, poorly thought out conclusions. I even AGREED with some of them, but their reasoning often wouldn't have earned a C- in some of my old classes.
Still, there seems to be no shortage of faces and names we know being asked, and GIVING their opinions, sometimes with surprising consequences.
Take, for instance, this month's flap over Hank Williams Jr.'s intemperate remarks about the president, comparing him to Hitler. I went to the original footage to see three Fox News folks on a morning show of some kind, who probably don't get three serious comments from guests in a month, but on this day they have HWJ hooked to a studio in Nashville.
He looks a little angry, and seems to be in no mood to suffer fools for long. Maybe it's too early, or the traffic was bad. Who knows? But there he is, trademark sunglasses in place, wearing some kind of shapeless sweatsuit and what looks like a deer hunter's hat.
It doesn't take him long to take the Foxsters to task for not seeing things exactly the way he does. He's deeply offended that John Boehner would play golf with the President, who he not only compares to Hitler, but, a la Rush, calls "the enemy". It's clear that probably every opinion he has is from the "redneck" handbook, though HWJ has more reason to feel that way because, unlike most of the tea party crowd, he has money.
But then, actions have consequences, and it wasn't long before ESPN and THEIR owners had made the decision to dump HWJ from the Monday Night Football package (doing the opening song), a gig he had held for many years. It's hard to know what he really felt, but his parting response (done electronically, of course) included the accusation that the TV folks had trampled on his "freedom of speech".
It's hard for me to overstate the ignorance of that last HWJ verbal salvo. Freedom of Speech means that a person can legally say plenty of offensive things without retaliation by the government. It DOESN"T protect the speaker from bad reaction from employers, news media or the general public. Nor is there a guarantee that like-thinking media will simply hide offending remarks, given casually or seriously. Surely HWJ has access to lawyers who could confirm all this, which they probably learned the first week in law school.
No, like others before him, the big guy has no one to blame but himself for coming on like a "durn fool" when he had no obligation to even talk to the Fox trio. But they (no doubt) knew he had a record of blurting things out, and people in that business live for the "big quote". Who could have foreseen it would put a hit on HWJ's bottom line? Will the NFL, ESPN, ABC or the Disney company also suffer a post-Hank dip? Evidently they don't think so.


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