After the Toledo Blade received months of criticism for reluctantly hosting National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent at their food and music festival, the conservative commentator repaid the Ohio paper by declaring that “So as long as you know the Toledo Blade hates you, you're a good American.”
Nugent has been a source of virulently racist, sexist, and homophobic commentary for years, but his January declaration that President Obama is a “subhuman mongrel” has triggered a wave of cancellations and protests of his concerts.
On August 8, Nugent performed at the 31st Annual Northwest Ohio Rib-off, a three-day festival featuring concerts and barbeque sponsored by the Blade. Nugent's appearance had been a source of controversy since it was announced in April, with the event's director telling Media Matters that he had received numerous calls from readers objecting to the performance. And after violence prevention group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence created a petition urging the paper to cancel the concert, the chairman of The Blade's parent company apologized for the invitation and wrote that while the concert would go on, he would “not support inviting him again.”
According to an August 9 Blade article, Nugent “and about a dozen people protesting his appearance overshadowed” the festival, with the sign-toting protestors receiving “support from numerous honking motorists who drove by and a few who flashed a thumbs-up sign.” During the festival, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence founder Toby Hoover delivered more than 6,200 petition signatures collected by CSGV to the Blade's sales director, according to the group.
Nugent responded by lashing out at the protestors, President Obama, and the Blade from stage:
From the stage, Nugent blasted the protesters, calling them the “Barack Obama fan club.”
“How much crazier can you get than having a President of the United States who hates the United States?” he asked.
Neither Nugent nor the protesters were happy with the newspaper.
“The Toledo Blade hates you,” Nugent told the crowd. “They hate your guts ...; They hate me. They hate freedom. So as long as you know the Toledo Blade hates you, you're a good American.”
At least four Nugent concerts have been cancelled this year in response to Nugent's commentary, and several more have been subject to demonstrations. American Indian groups in particular have been protesting Nugent over his past racial comments, with tribes cancelling planned casino concerts and the president of the American Indian Movement Grassroots reportedly stating that the group “will always” protest the concerts.
Music industry experts say that Nugent's rhetoric has hurt his image to the point where he could seriously damage his music career.
Mike Mori, director of sales for The Blade and a coordinator of the event, reportedly confronted Nugent over his comments attacking the paper:
Mr. Mori, who is director of sales for The Blade, said he told Nugent, whose right-wing views prompted an outpouring of opposition before the Friday night show, that he was disappointed in his statements to the crowd, and told him The Blade sponsored the event and paid his fee.
“We were served a petition by an anti-gun coalition to not have him play shortly before he went on, and then they put the picture of them giving it to me on the Internet,” Mr. Mori said. "His wife saw it, he thought that The Blade instigated the petition.
“I met with him after the show. I had a spirited conversation with him. I was very disappointed in him. I think he was a little bit embarrassed. He said he would like the chance to write a letter to explain his side of it,” Mr. Mori said.