Country singer compares Obama to Adolf Hitler in remarks
Williams statement says he has always respected office of the president
Williams acknowledges his analogy was "extreme"
For the first time in years, “Monday Night Football” viewers did not hear Hank Williams Jr.’s intro “Are You Ready for Some Football?” after ESPN pulled the song from the broadcast following remarks Williams made about President Barack Obama.
In an appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” Monday morning, Williams referred to a June golf game with Obama and House Speaker John Boehner on the same team, against Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, as “one of the biggest political mistakes ever.”
Asked what he didn’t like about it, Williams said, “Come on. That’d be like (Adolf) Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu. Not hardly.”
In a statement Monday, ESPN said that while Williams “is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to “Monday Night Football.” We are extremely disappointed with his comments and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”
In a statement issued through a representative, Williams, son of legendary country singer Hank Williams, acknowledged his analogy was “extreme – but it was to make a point.”
“Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood,” the country singer said. “… I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me – how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites, and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will.”
Williams, however, said he has “always respected the office of the president.”
Still, he noted, “Every time the media brings up the tea party, it’s painted as racist and extremists – but there’s never a backlash, no outrage to those comparisons … Working-class people are hurting – and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job – it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change. The policies have to change.”
CNN’s Denise Quan contributed to this report.