On Wednesday, the Discovery Channel ran a one-hour special on guns that stars a fanatic who threatened to kill President Obama and other officials and was investigated by the Secret Service in April. In 2007, the Discovery Channel’s new star wielded two machine guns while yelling, “Obama, he's a piece of s--t. I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Then, raising up one the guns, he said, “Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”
Discovery’s new star is "Motor City Madman" Ted Nugent, who ominously warned in April that he would “either be dead or in jail by this time next year” if the president wins re-election. He then compared Obama and Clinton to a coyote that needs to be shot and called on his supporters to chop off Democrats’ heads in November. After those remarks were publicized by this blog, he was investigated by the Secret Service and commanders at Fort Knox cancelled his scheduled show there, citing his “public comments about the president of the United States.”
The Army has standards, Discovery apparently doesn’t. That reminds me, I’ve been hearing a lot of people complain about Honey Boo Boo, which plays on Discovery’s TLC. Say what you will, but at least she never threatened to kill the President. The same cannot be said of Nugent, star of Wednesday night’s one-hour special – Ted Nugent's Gun Country.
Nugent is best known – to the extent that people still know him at all – as a hard rocker from the ‘70s. He was crazy then, and time has not been kind to “Uncle Ted.” From a reality TV perspective, so far so good.
Nugent is a hunting enthusiast, to put it mildly, and a longtime NRA board member. The Discovery special is focused on that aspect of his life. But where we start to run into trouble is Nugent’s long record of extreme and hate-filled rhetoric.
Now, we could have a debate about whether someone who displays the Confederate flag, says real Americans are white, calls female leaders a “toxic cunt” and “dirty whore,” thinks gay men are “despicable” and so on should have their own cable TV show. But we don’t have to. We have a much simpler question at hand about violent rhetoric – should someone who has threated to kill the president and other officials get his own TV show?
In Nugent’s case, it’s even worse. He made the threats on multiple occasions and has a history of violent rhetoric. In 1990, he said he “would have killed everybody,” including fellow Americans, if he had been in the service and sent to Vietnam. In 1992, he said this of Heidi Prescott of the Fund for Animals, “Who needs to club a seal, when you can club Heidi?” In 1998, he told Fox News’ Alan Colmes about how he’d like to shoot and kill armed immigrants “invading our country.”
Nugent seems to take great pleasure in his song “Kiss My Glock.” At concerts, he’s called out the many people he wants to kiss his gun, including Jesse Jackson, former Congressman David Bonior, and Sarah Brady, the former RNC staffer whose husband served as President Reagan’s press secretary and was seriously wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt – both since have become gun control advocates. During one rendition of the song, Nugent even shot an arrow at a Nazi-flag-waving Janet Reno.
Nugent’s violent rhetoric has been covered widely in the press, so we can only assume that Discovery knows all about it. But even reality TV should have some minimum standards. It says a lot that we can’t even agree to draw the line at threatening to the kill the president.