The Outdoor Channel announced the "expansion of its strategic partnership with the National Rifle Association" and a new "multi-year talent and endorsement agreement" with inflammatory NRA board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent, pointing to the network's effort to eclipse its competitors as the channel of choice for the gun lobby and firearms enthusiasts.
Outdoor Channel announced an expansion of its relationship with the NRA including two new NRA shows to air on Outdoor Channel and sponsorship of the NRA's 2014 annual meeting in a January 6 press release. The new programs include NRA All Access presented by Taurus, which promises to "take a comprehensive look at the role the NRA plays in important Second Amendment issues and the outdoor lifestyle." NRA News' Cam & Company currently airs on rival network The Sportsman Channel, which recently announced an upcoming show to be hosted by former Alaska Governor and current Fox News contributor Sarah Palin.
In a separate press release Outdoor Channel, which has long aired Nugent's hunting show Spirit of the Wild, said that Nugent will work on behalf of the network "through traditional, digital and social media promotional initiatives, in addition to making talent appearances on the network's behalf at top consumer and industry trade events" and also announced a weekly podcast featuring Nugent.
Nugent will represent Outdoor Channel at the 2014 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) in January, the largest gun industry annual gathering, and at the NRA's new Great American Outdoor Show. At last year's SHOT Show, Nugent created controversy by suggesting that it was time to violently overthrow the federal government because of an attempt to re-implement "tyranny" by the Obama administration.
Outdoor Channel President and CEO Jim Liberatore heaped praise on Nugent's character in his channel's statement, claiming that the NRA board member "symbolizes everything that is right in our industry":
"Ted Nugent symbolizes everything that is right in our industry and represents our viewers as an outspoken patriot, a skilled outdoorsman and a devoted family man; we are proud that he can be found exclusively on Outdoor Channel," said Jim Liberatore, President and CEO of Outdoor Channel. "His programs have a powerful, zealous fan base with unmatched engagement levels. And, under this agreement, we will join forces with Ted to become advocates for all enthusiasts who love and live in the outdoors."
Although the details of the contract were not released, Liberatore's claim of exclusivity may preclude Nugent from appearing on other channels, including The Sportsman Channel which has aired reality show Wanted Ted or Alive and an annual special where Nugent hunts feral hogs from a helicopter. Nugent is also a columnist for conservative websites WND.com and Newsmax.
Outdoor Channel's expanded role for Nugent inevitably tars the network with Nugent's lengthy history of inflammatory rhetoric -- including bouts of racism, sexism, homophobia, immigrant bashing and Islamophobia -- along with his tendency to alienate large portions of the general public.
In a recent column for WND.com that defended anti-gay comments made by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, Nugent addressed his outspoken views, stating that he is "just getting warmed up." If his recent comments are any indicator, Nugent is sure to soon embarrass his new employer.
One such example of Nugent's typical rhetoric was a weeks-long racist tirade set off by the acquittal of George Zimmerman on charges that he unlawfully killed unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Nugent's commentary on the acquittal started with columns disparaging Martin as a "dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe" and an "enraged black man-child," one of many racially charged comments he offered last year.
Nugent is also well known for drawing the scrutiny of the Secret Service after suggesting at the NRA's 2012 annual meeting that he would be "dead or in jail" if Obama was reelected and for wondering in July 2012 "if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War."