Backlash Mounts Against Newspaper's Ted Nugent Concert

The director of a summer event sponsored by the The Blade of Toledo, OH, says the scheduled appearance of Ted Nugent is sparking a backlash from members of the community who take issue with the conservative commentator and musician's virulent commentary.

“All things being equal I wouldn't bring in a guy who is aggravating people, that is not my intention,” said Mike Mori, The Blade's sales director, who is also event director for the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off, a four-day food and music event the newspaper has been running for four years. “It seems like this thing has kind of ballooned in the last couple months. I will probably think long and hard about inviting him next year.”

The Blade announced today that Nugent, whose offensive comments about President Obama and other leaders have drawn criticism, will play the festival on August 8.

Mori said he has already received “quite a few” calls from readers objecting to the appearance. “It surprised me how many calls I got,” he said. “I'm listening to the people and I probably will do something different next year if I can.”

But Mori told Media Matters if he cancels Nugent's appearance this year, he still has to pay him the full fee, which he declined to reveal but said is more than $50,000.

“I have to pay him that even if it rains,” Mori said. “I wish the guy would just not say the things he does, he brings a big audience, he's from Michigan, he packs the place. If everyone hated him, nobody would come. He does have a following, it's a tough situation. I try to have a diverse type of a line-up.”

Nugent, who has a history of offensive comments, drew heightened opposition in recent months after he referred to President Barack Obama as a “subhuman mongrel” during a January interview.

That comment drew widespread criticism and even caused a music festival in Texas to disinvite him. Following near-universal condemnation, Nugent issued a half-hearted apology.

Mori, who stressed that he is “not a fan of the guy's politics,” said he had signed Nugent to play the event in October 2013, before the latest uproar. He added that Nugent played the Rib-Off festival in 2012 without incident.

Mori said the festival pays most of the major acts about $50,000, adding that many big names want double or triple that amount. He said the fee is lower to keep down ticket prices, which run $6 to $12 depending on the performer. 

Blade President and General Manager Joseph Zerbey did not respond to requests for comment, while Blade Editor Kurt Franck declined to offer an opinion.

“I try to make a mix of music, I try to stay out of politics, I'm in a tough position,” Mori said. “I don't agree with what the guy says.”