Amid Griffin outrage, the left asks: What about Ted Nugent?

Palin receiving backlash for White House photo
Palin receiving backlash for White House photo

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    Palin receiving backlash for White House photo

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Palin receiving backlash for White House photo 00:53

Story highlights

  • Trump expressed outrage over the Griffin photo
  • Sean Spicer dodged a question about why Trump was not outraged by Ted Nugent

(CNN)Kathy Griffin's participation in a gruesome photoshoot in which she held up a severed head resembling President Donald Trump received widespread backlash from all ends of the political spectrum.

"Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!" Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
    But amid the firestorm, many liberals are accusing Trump and conservatives of selective outrage. Their reason: rocker Ted Nugent's caustic criticism of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
    "Remember that time you sought and accepted the endorsement of violently racist pederast Ted Nugent for your presidential bid? Good times," author Joy Reid tweeted in response to Mitt Romney's condemnation of Griffin.
    "It's reprehensible what Kathy Griffin did, & the left has denounced it. Ted Nugent did it to Obama, & your dad invited him to the WH," a Twitter user tweeted in response to Donald Trump Jr.'s criticism of Griffin.
    And in response to a tweet by conservative commentator Tomi Lahren, one Twitter user wrote, "Ted Nugent said he wanted to lynch Obama and Trump brought him to the WH so take your self righteous BS somewhere else."
    Nugent, who backed Trump in 2016 and was invited to the White House to dine with the President in April, threatened to kill then-Democratic presidential candidates Obama and Clinton while holding two machine guns in a 2007 onstage appearance.
    "Obama, he's a piece of s---. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary," Nugent said. "You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless b----."
    And again, in 2012, Nugent recommended decapitating Democrats, saying, "We need to ride onto that battlefield and chop their heads off in November," while speaking at the NRA convention in April.
    In that speech, he made another controversial remark that suggested violence toward Obama: "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year."
    While many understood each of Nugent's comments as figurative and not literal threats of assassination, his threats sparked widespread outrage -- but not from Trump, who was peddling conspiracy theories about Obama's birth certificate at the time.
    "Ted Nugent was obviously using a figure of speech, unfortunate as it was. It just shows the anger people have towards @BarackObama," Trump tweeted in April 2012.
    White House press secretary Sean Spicer dodged a question from Politico's Matthew Nussbaum during Wednesday's off-camera press briefing after he was asked if he thinks is "appropriate" that Trump invited Nugent to the White House.
    "I wanted to ask about Ted Nugent who joked multiple times about assassinating President Barack Obama, who said Hillary Clinton should be hanged. He was invited to the White House for dinner by President Trump," Nussbaun asked. "Do you believe that was appropriate and if Trump is offended by this incident why was he not bothered by all of Mr. Nugent's comments?"
    Spicer initially avoided the Nugent question and said that both Trump and first lady Melania Trump released statements on Griffin, but Nussbaun pressed, asking, "Why was it OK for Mr. Nugent to make these comments?"
    "I'd have to look back and see what those statements were and what the reaction was at the time," Spicer said.