It's too soon to tell whether Ted Nugent's noxious career as a conservative pundit reached a tipping point this week, but the moment he called in sick to CNN and backed out of a scheduled interview with Erin Burnett as Republican politicians denounced him might soon be seen as a flash point for the fading rock star and the incendiary brand of hate rhetoric he's been cashing in on for years. It might also be viewed as a key stumbling moment for the conservative media, which have been unable in recent years to establish any sort of guardrails for common decency within the realm of political debate.
Increasingly reliant on bad fringe actors like Nugent to connect with their far, far-right audience, the conservative media have built up Obama-bashing personalities who no longer occupy any corner of the American mainstream. Yet Nugent enjoys deep ties with Republican campaigns all across the country. When those ties receive media scrutiny, they cannot be defended.
National Rifle Association board member Nugent found himself at the center of a campaign controversy this week when he was invited to two public events for Texas Republican Greg Abbott, who is running for governor. Of course Nugent, a former Washington Times columnist who now writes for birther website WND, recently called President Obama a "communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel" and has a long and vivid history of launching vile attacks on women. (He's called Hillary Clinton a "toxic cunt.")
Following waves of condemnations for the association, and a torrent of critical media coverage, with reporters and pundits wondering why a gubernatorial candidate would voluntarily campaign with someone who spouts "insane and racist talk," as CNN's Jake Tapper put it, Abbott claimed he wasn't aware of Nugent history of racist and misogynistic comments. If so, Abbott's campaign staff is utterly incompetent. (The "subhuman mongrel" comment, unearthed last month by Media Matters, was highlighted by a number of outlets at the time, including on MSNBC.)
It's likely Abbott and his staff did know about Nugent's dark rhetoric, since that's all he traffics in. But because that kind of hate speech has become so accepted and even celebrated within the bubble for right-wing media, they failed to see the danger of embracing it.
From the February 20 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
Loading the player reg...
Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott will reportedly no longer campaign with inflammatory National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, whose presence on the campaign trail caused a firestorm of controversy due to Nugent's recent description of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel."
Nugent, however, is also involved in the campaigns of other Republican office seekers in Texas, Colorado, and Georgia. Last year, Nugent also claimed a close working relationship with prominent members of the GOP, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. At the time, Walker said he did not work with Nugent, and Cruz appeared on CNN's New Day on February 20 to deny he "hang[s] out" with Nugent.
Here are three instances of Nugent campaigning for Republicans and two instances where Nugent's claims about close relationships with prominent GOP figures have been called into question:
In a December 2013 e-mail addressed to "real Americans," Nugent fundraised for Colorado gubernatorial hopeful Tom Tancredo, a former U.S. Representative best known for his hardline immigration stance. In the fundraising pitch, Nugent wrote that, "like you, I'm terrified by where Barack Obama and his radical America hating leftist goons are leading this great country." Nugent praised "hero for liberty" Tancredo's opposition to "amnesty for illegal immigrants," and warned that the Obama administration and democratic governors "are determined to shred our constitution and take away our guns." "The way I see it is anybody that wants to disarm me can drop dead," added Nugent.
While much of the controversy surrounding Abbott's decision to campaign with Nugent has related to the rocker's "subhuman mongrel" comment and offensive remarks about women, Texas media has also raised Nugent's inflammatory commentary on immigration. The San Antonio Express noted that Nugent has called for undocumented immigrants to be treated like "indentured servants." Indeed, Nugent did make that claim in May 2013 when he debuted the "Nuge Immigration Plan," which would require undocumented male immigrants to build a fence on the United States-Mexico border. The Houston Chronicle reported on a 2008 appearance on Fox News where Nugent said of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the border, "I'd like to shoot them dead."
Ted Nugent canceled a planned interview on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront after comparing the network to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels and lashing out at host Wolf Blitzer for condemning Nugent's inflammatory rhetoric, including attacking President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel."
On her CNN show, Burnett revealed that Nugent had canceled the interview two hours before it was scheduled to air, citing illness.
Nugent came under widespread criticism after calling Obama a "subhuman mongrel" at a gun show. On February 18, CNN host Wolf Blitzer condemned Nugent's comments, noting that the phrase "subhuman mongrel" bore resemblance to "untermensch," which is "what the Nazis called Jews ... to justify the genocide of the Jewish community." Blitzer also highlighted the controversy surrounding Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, for whom Nugent made appearances as part of Abbott's campaign for Texas governor.
Nugent responded to Blitzer and CNN by lashing out at Blitzer and tweeting "CNN Joseph Goebbells Saul Alinsky propaganda ministry mongrels" and "So much media has lost its soul lying Saul Alinsky Joseph Geobbells [sic] freaks."
After hyping the interview on his Twitter account, Nugent did not tweet about the cancellation.
CNN and MSNBC devoted significant coverage to controversy surrounding Republican Texas gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott's decision to campaign with the inflammatory Ted Nugent, while Fox News ignored the controversy entirely. Nugent, who is a conservative columnist and National Rifle Association board member, appeared on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor for a softball interview earlier this month.
Controversy erupted over Abbott's decision to hold two campaign events with Nugent in Texas after critics pointed out Nugent recently called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" and that the rocker has a history of vile attacks on women. CNN devoted 37 minutes and 24 seconds to the controversy, while MSNBC covered it for 13 minutes and 48 seconds. The controversy was never mentioned on Fox News:
From the February 19 edition of CNN's Wolf:
Loading the player reg...
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent lashed out at media who covered controversy surrounding his campaign appearances with Texas Republican governor candidate Greg Abbott by comparing members of the media to Joseph Goebbels, who served as Hitler's Minister of Propaganda.
Controversy has been swirling in the Texas governor's race following Abbott's decision to include Nugent at campaign events, in spite of Nugent's recent characterization of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel" and his lengthy history of vile attacks on women.
Nugent has responded by calling videos of his offensive commentary "lies" and "inaccurate" and also sent a series of tweets on February 19 comparing CNN and other unnamed members of the media to Goebbels:
Ted Nugent denied his long history of incendiary comments while appearing on the campaign trail with Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Reacting to condemnation of his comments from CNN Wolf Blitzer, Nugent compared the network to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
From the February 18 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:
Loading the player reg...
CNN host Wolf Blitzer weighed in on the controversy surrounding Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott's decision to campaign with inflammatory National Rifle Association board member and Outdoor Channel spokesperson Ted Nugent. Blitzer condemned Nugent for calling President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" and predicted that Abbott will be forced to jettison Nugent from his campaign.
Abbott's decision to campaign with Nugent has proved controversial, particularly because of Nugent's history of extreme misogyny and other inflammatory commentary. The Texas Democratic Party, women's group Annie's List, and the campaign of Wendy Davis have all condemned Abbott for his association with Nugent.
During the February 18 edition of Wolf on CNN, Blitzer invited Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater to discuss the ongoing controversy. According to Blitzer, "Nugent's presence hit a sour note with a lot of people. They say Texans deserve better than a candidate who would align himself with someone like Nugent who offered a hate-filled assessment of the president." Blitzer went on to state, "Shockingly, Abbott's campaign brushed aside the criticism, saying they value Nugent's commitment to the Second Amendment."
Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is facing criticism over his decision to campaign with National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent because of the rocker's inflammatory attacks on women and racially charged commentary about President Obama.
After reports emerged that Nugent would be making two February 18 campaign appearances with Abbott, the move was condemned by the Texas Democratic Party, women's group Annie's List, and the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis.
Citing Nugent's recent characterization of Obama as a "mongrel" -- a term that describes a dog of indeterminate breed -- the Texas Democratic Party issued a press release calling on Abbott to cancel the planned appearances:
Austin, TX -- This Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott is set to have joint appearances with right-wing radical Ted Nugent. According to the Texas Eagle Forum, the Attorney General will join Nugent for events in Denton and Wichita Falls.
According to the Dallas Morning News, "Just last month, [Nugent] told Guns.com at the Las Vegas hunting and outdoor trade show that, 'I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.'" [Dallas Morning News, 2/13/2014]
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa released the following statement:
"Just last month, Ted Nugent called President Barack Obama a 'subhuman mongrel' and 'gangster.' He spews hate against our first African-American President and in return, Attorney General Greg Abbott welcomes him to the campaign trail. Is this how Abbott celebrates Black History Month? Texans deserve better than a statewide office holder and candidate running for governor who welcomes Ted Nugent and his repugnant comments. I can't help but recall the old saying, tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are."
Inflammatory conservative columnist Ted Nugent will be making two campaign appearances with Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Abbott is predicted to run against Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, who has been the target of sexist attacks from the conservative media. Nugent himself has a lengthy history of vile misogynist commentary.
While representing the Outdoor Channel at a gun show, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent cited President Obama's expression of sympathy to deceased Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's parents as evidence the president is "an avowed racist."
During an interview with PennLive.com, Nugent said "the best Americans are so heartbroken right now" in part because we have "a president who's an avowed racist who claimed because Trayvon Martin was black, even though he was a gangster and an attacker and a doper, that he could have been his son."
In March 2012 -- less than a month after an unarmed Martin was shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman -- Obama expressed sympathy towards Martin's parents by stating, "[M]y main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."
Since a 2011 appearance on Huckabee, Nugent caused controversy for claiming in April 2012 he would be "dead or in jail" if President Obama was reelected and has used increasingly inflammatory rhetoric to voice his opposition to the Obama administration and to attack the African-American community.
Nugent previewed his O'Reilly Factor appearance on birther Peter Boyles' Colorado radio show by praising O'Reilly for bringing "a lot of piss and vinegar to an otherwise flatlining Mr. Rodgers media," but also by raising a previous dispute between him and the Fox host about whether it is possible for civilians to obtain machine guns and other heavy weaponry.
On February 1 the National Rifle Association will commence its inaugural hosting of one of the largest gun shows in the United States with the weeklong Great American Outdoor Show held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The show promises attendees nearly 1,000 exhibitors displaying wares for hunting, fishing and other outdoors activities as well as "concerts, fundraising dinners, speaking events, archery competitions, celebrity appearances, seminars, demonstrations and much more!"
But behind the NRA's sponsorship of the show is the backstory of how the NRA led a 2013 coup against the previous organizers of "the largest outdoor show in America" at the Farm Show Complex over a dispute about the sale of assault weapons following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. With its takeover of the event -- which will now also be used as an NRA fundraising tool -- the NRA is consciously injecting its Second Amendment absolutism into an annual outdoors show that has been a Harrisburg fixture for more than 60 years.
Here are five reasons why the NRA's Great American Outdoor Show is different from your typical hunting and fishing enthusiast expo:
1. NRA Ousted The Previous Owners For Refusing To Allow Assault Weapons Post-Newtown
Following the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman used an assault weapon to take 26 lives, Reed Exhibitions -- which in recent years had organized the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, the annual hunting and fishing show held since 1951 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex -- announced that it would not allow assault weapons to be displayed or sold at the 2013 show. In response, sellers of assault weapons and other vendors staged a boycott of the show. The NRA entered the fray, backing the boycott and effectively killing the show, which was subsequently cancelled by Reed Exhibitions. Local officials estimated the cancellation caused an $88 million revenue loss in the Harrisburg area. In April 2013, the NRA announced that it would organize the 2014 show, renamed as the Great American Outdoor Show, after beating out 16 other potential organizers who submitted bids to put on a gun show at the Farm Show Complex.