ESPN claimed they fired him. Hank Williams Jr. said he quit, but you can be certain all our rowdy friends would still be coming over if Williams would not have been repeating FNC’s Obama propaganda.
In a statement ESPN claimed they fired him, “We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”
On his own website Hank Williams Jr. claimed that he quit, “After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment. Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.”
Ah, the age old question, how can you fire me when I already quit? I mean who hasn’t profusely apologized the day before they quit their job?
Whether he quit or not, it is obvious that Hank Jr. would still have the only gig that makes him somewhat relevant to pop culture if he had not gone on Fox News and compared Obama to Hitler.
The Fox News influence on Williams’ political beliefs goes beyond what he said in the video. In his statement today, he claimed that ESPN violated his First Amendment rights by suspending him, but what poor ol’ Hank doesn’t realize is that as a private sector employee of Disney (the owner of ESPN) he had no First Amendment rights.
The First Amendment states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
First Amendment free speech protections do not fully apply to private sector employees. Private sector employees do have a right to engage in political activity, but employers also have the right to set the conditions of the workplace, but it is illegal for employers to influence employees or discriminate against employees on the basis of personal political activity or affiliation.
In the case of Hank Williams Jr., it is likely that his contract contained a conduct clause that allowed his employer to fire him at will for statements or conduct that reflected badly on his employer.
Hank Williams Jr. is the perfect example of the damage that the misinformation propagated by Fox News can do to its own viewers. Where do you think Williams got the idea that Obama is a Nazi? Where did the notion that ESPN canning him was a violation of his First Amendment rights come from? The conservative media has mastered the dark art of misinforming low information voters, while at the same time convincing them that they are well informed and knowledgeable.
ESPN was well within their a legal rights to fire Hank Williams Jr. for damaging their business and brand, so despite what his friends and Fox News and the right wing media may have led him to believe, this was never a First Amendment issue.
Instead of reading hundreds of emails from his fellow misinformed Fox News viewers, perhaps Williams should have talked to his lawyer. The lesson here is that listening to Rupert Murdoch’s Misinformation Machine not only makes you sound crazy, it can also cost you your job.