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:
CNN and MSNBC's coverage of the Nugent-Abbott controversy was largely negative, with multiple CNN hosts terming Nugent's “mongrel” comment about Obama racist. Nugent responded by lashing out at CNN and host Wolf Blitzer, who covered Nugent's “mongrel” comment on Wolf and The Situation Room, describing the network as “Joseph Goebbells Saul Alinsky propaganda ministry mongrels,” adding, "@WolfBlitzer is a journalist & Im a gay pirate from Cuba."
Nugent recently participated in a softball interview with Fox host Bill O'Reilly, his first primetime appearance on the conservative news channel since 2011. The February 7 O'Reilly Factor appearance revolved almost entirely around Nugent's musical career. O'Reilly described Nugent as “controversial,” noting he was a “big-gun guy” and that “sometimes Nugent's politics can make things a bit dicey,” but none of Nugent's past offensive statements were mentioned. The only issue of substance in the interview was a discussion of Nugent's anti-drug stance, and his opposition to legalized marijuana:
Fox News host Sean Hannity previously defended Nugent for his inflammatory rhetoric. In August 2007, Nugent came under fire after concert video showed him carrying what appeared to be machine guns while stating that “piece of shit” then-Senator Barack Obama should “suck on [his] machine gun.” During his tirade Nugent also called Hillary Clinton a “worthless bitch,” told Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to “suck on [his] machine gun,” and called Sen. Dianne Feinstein a “worthless whore.” Hannity aired the concert footage on the August 24, 2007, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, and afterwards referred to Nugent as a “friend and frequent guest on the program.” Challenged by Bob Beckel to condemn Nugent's rhetoric, Hannity said, “No, I like Ted Nugent. He's a friend of mine.”
Methodology: Media Matters reviewed internal video archives for discussion of the Nugent-Abbott controversy using the search terms “ted nugent,” “greg abbott,” “greg abott,” “greg abbot,” and “greg abot” between the start of February 18 to February 19 at 8 AM EST. Repeats and discussion of the Texas governor race which did not mention the controversy were excluded.
Chart by Albert Kleine.