UPDATE: Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson expanded on Nugent's role during a January 28 appearance on WMAL's Mornings on the Mall. Carlson said Nugent will likely write a weekly column, adding: “I think he'll participate a lot. I really -- I like him. I mean, he's, you know, he's like a rock star with political views. So, you know, he doesn't hold back. And he says intemperate, sometimes borderline, demented things, but I think he's interesting, and I think he's a good guy, and I think he has actually some really informed, interesting opinions on the 2nd Amendment, and hunting, so I love the fact that he's working for us.”
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent says he has joined the opinion page of conservative website The Daily Caller. Nugent wrote in a January 27 Facebook post, “Proud to join Tucker Carlson & his DAILY CALLER team of truth, logic, commonsense, reality writers at this fine website,” and linked to a column he wrote for that website that responded to recent criticism of the NRA.
It is unclear whether Nugent's piece was a one-time column or whether, as his Facebook comment suggests, he is now a paid regular contributor or staff columnist. Asked to clarify Nugent's role, Daily Caller executive editor Vince Coglianese responded sarcastically to Media Matters reporter Joe Strupp, saying only: “It was a common sense decision for us. We've long been associated with the political right, and we felt it was time to broaden our appeal with the sensible middle. We're paying him in venison.” He did not respond to follow-up questions. A Daily Caller spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Daily Caller senior contributor Matt K. Lewis previously warned conservatives from associating with Nugent and other inflammatory conservative figures after Nugent was widely criticized for calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.”
In a February 21, 2014, column -- headlined “The enemy of my enemy is my friend: Why conservatives are always defending the indefensible” -- Lewis wrote, “Like the girl who always falls for the guy who's bad for her, conservatives keep trusting the wrong people and making the same mistakes” before naming Nugent as an example.
Lewis explained that “loose cannon” Nugent is embraced by the conservative movement, despite his inflammatory commentary, because Nugent “has all the right enemies” on the left and “because conservatives are so desperate for celebrities that they are (ironically) enamored of them.” (Nugent's Caller bio says he has “carved a permanent place in rock & roll history as the guitar-shredding showman.” )
Lewis urged conservatives to avoid association with figures like Nugent, writing, “It's time to break the cycle,” and that, “When we endorse the wrong person, their actions reflect on us.” He concluded with the “modest proposal” that “When conservatives vet someone (assuming they do), they should consider some additional criteria, including: 'Is this personal really a conservative?' -- 'Is this person just using us?,' and (just as importantly) - 'Do they have the character and integrity worthy of our support?' So why do we keep falling for these bad guys? We're flattered by the attention. We want them to think we're cool. And maybe, just maybe, we think we can fix them...”
Lewis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In his first column for the Daily Caller, Nugent defended the NRA from recent criticism of the gun group by sportscaster Bryant Gumbel. While Gumbel suggested the NRA bore some responsibility for gun violence in the United States, Nugent instead falsely argued that gun violence is solely a feature of urban areas and wrote, “Subtract the number of suicides and fatherless gangsters killing other fatherless gangsters and what you have is an America slightly less violent than Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.” (On Facebook, Nugent wrote that Gumbel “is drowning in the racist brainwashing koolade cult of denial.” )
The NRA often uses the Daily Caller to promote its agenda. The Caller's "Guns and Gear" section frequently republishes press releases from the NRA's lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, and often publishes unhinged opinion pieces by NRA CEO and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and other NRA leaders. Daily Caller and the NRA also have an advertising relationship and readers have been offered discounted NRA memberships.