The White House’s Ted Nugent problem

Kathy Griffin posed for a tasteless photo. Nugent actually threatened violence against Obama.

CREDIT: screengrab
CREDIT: screengrab

On Wednesday morning, President Trump blasted Kathy Griffin for posing for a photo holding a bloody head that looked like President Trump. The tasteless photo was widely condemned and cost Griffin her job as a co-host of CNN’s annual New Year’s Eve program.

First Lady Melania Trump released a statement calling the photo “disturbing” and added, “a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it.”


Trump’s son, Donald Jr., went further, saying the Griffin photo represents “what the left thinks is acceptable today.”

But there’s glaring hypocrisy involved in the Trump family’s denunciations of Griffin. Just last month, Trump invited rock star Ted Nugent to the White House for dinner, despite Nugent’s repeated calls for the deaths of then-President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Back in 2012, Trump even went out of his way to defend Nugent after Nugent said that if President Obama were reelected, he’d “either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

During Trump’s presidential campaign, Nugent’s well-documented history of racism and violent threats didn’t deter Trump from featuring him in his campaign ads and at his rallies. Nor did it deter Trump from inviting Nugent to the White House and posing for photos with him.

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During an off-camera news conference on Wednesday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about discrepancy.

“Obviously [Griffin’s] conduct has been widely condemned, and it’s not a partisan thing to say joking about violence toward the president is unacceptable,” a reporter said. “But on that note, 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. 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 had no answers.

“With respect to Kathy Griffin, I think the president, the first lady, and the Secret Service have all made statements on that that I’ll let stand,” Spicer said, ignoring Nugent altogether.


Pressed on the matter, Spicer said he’d “have to look back and see what those statements were, and what the reaction was at the time,” before quickly pivoting to another topic.

Trump is not above using threatening rhetoric himself. During a rally in August 2016, Trump infamously suggested that “Second Amendment people” — gun owners — might be the last line of defense against Hillary Clinton and the gun-curtailing judges she’d nominate. He also encouraged violence against demonstrators, urging supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters during a February 2016 rally and promising to pay for the legal fees of anyone who did it.

A couple weeks after that incident, Trump wished physical harm upon a protester, saying in reference to one that he’d “like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you that.”

“You know what they used to do to a guy like that in a place like this?” Trump added. “They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”