Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shoot the Messenger: Toby Keith vs. The Tennessean's Peter Cooper

Posted by on Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 1:29 PM

click to enlarge Technically speaking, Kris, Toby Keith has in fact worn his country's uniform
  • Technically speaking, Kris, Toby Keith has in fact worn his country's uniform

I've never been quite sure what to make of Toby Keith. On the one hand, his whole redneck shtick and uber-patriotic songs like "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" make me want to gag. But then he's got Willie Nelson's seal of approval, which makes me think, "If Willie likes him, he can't be all bad."

But his tirade against Tennessean music writer Peter Cooper in the press room at the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday sealed the deal: Toby Keith is a thin-skinned, petulant brat with the emotional maturity of a 2-year-old.

As CMT News reported yesterday, Keith is furious at Cooper for his piece about Ethan Hawke's Rolling Stone story on Kris Kristofferson. Hawke made reference to "one of country music's brightest stars" who "at that moment in time ... had a monster radio hit about bombing America's enemies back into the Stone Age." According to Hawke, said star asked Kris Kristofferson not to play any political music during a concert taping in New York City celebrating Willie Nelson's 70th birthday, after which Kristofferson chewed out said star in front of everyone.

All Peter Cooper did was point out the obvious. An excerpt from Cooper's piece:

Wonder what "star" this could be. The only clue Hawke offers is this: "At that moment in time, the Star had a monster radio hit about bombing America's enemies back into the Stone Age."

Let's see... big country star, hit song about military aggression, friends with Willie Nelson. I wish Hawke could have given us something to go on here. Like, "Does a bunch of truck commercials," or "Often refers to himself as 'Big Dog Daddy,'" or "Name rhymes with 'Moby Teeth.'"

Anyway, according to Hawke, former Army officer Kristofferson took offense, stepped forward and growled, "You ever worn your country's uniform?"

Mr. Teeth replied, "What?" and Kristofferson said, "Don't what me, boy! You heard the question. You just don't like the answer. I asked, 'Have you ever served your country?' The answer is, 'No, you have not.'"

Now all Cooper did is relate what the Rolling Stone article said. He carefully said, "...according to Hawke, former Army officer Kristofferson took offense...," pointing out that it was Hawke's contention, not irrefutable fact. Sure, he had a little fun with the Moby Teeth thing, but jeez, he's a music journalist. His job is to discuss music news and, when possible, be entertaining. And what he wrote was damn funny, so mission accomplished.

Toby's off-the-hook, motherfuckin' tirade, and so fucking much more, after the jump:

As reported on Hollywood Grind:

"You from The Tennessean? You wrote that article? You thought that was funny, calling me Moby Teeth? You better watch yourself."

"You thought you could dance around it, funny ha-ha, but it was me. Who else wrote a song about bombing enemies? Who else does car commercials?.... You think Ethan Hawke knows me? You think Ethan Hawke can sing a chorus to one of my songs? Or one of my 62 million spins? Doubt it! So you took the story and you Moby Teethed it and took it to another level....

You think Kris Kristofferson motherfucked me? Kris Kristofferson said that shit didn't happen. He e-mailed Rolling Stone and said that shit didn't happen. And you still wrote your story?

Who supersized the story? You take credit for that? You and Ethan Hawke are guilty. He doesn't know me, that dick didn't call me, ask me what I thought.

I'm struggling being here with you in the room. You ran it and took it to supersize French fries and now you have to answer for it.

You've never shit in your fucking ass like you have right now. Do you want to ask me another question?"

To which Cooper wisely shook his head "No."

According to a witness, "You could hear a pin drop. It looked like Toby was going to knock the crap out of Cooper, who looked horrified!"

For the record, Kristofferson did in fact send a note to both Rolling Stone and The Tennessean, though he didn't say, "that shit didn't happen." What he actually said was, "I have to say, though, I have no memory of talking so tough to anyone at Willie's birthday party -- least of all to Toby Keith, (if that's who the nameless star is), for whom I have nothing but admiration and respect."

Notice that he didn't deny that it happened, just said he has no memory of it. Sounds kind of like he's trying to get Keith off the hook because Kristofferson said some stuff he regretted, no? And maybe he knows that his friend's tough-guy image would be harmed if people knew he actually called Toby Keith "Boy" and pointed out the hypocrisy of his faux patriotic shtick.

And what better way for Keith to reclaim his tough-guy image than by shouting down a reporter in front of his peers?

Only Hawke, Keith, Kristofferson, Nelson and the other bystanders (who included Ray Charles and Norah Jones) will ever know what really happened. And for the record, Rolling Stone stands behind the story.

But regardless of whether it happened, Mr. Keith, uh, sir, Peter Cooper was just doing his job, and he was just paraphrasing the Rolling Stone story. Take up your beef with Ethan Hawke! Don't shoot the messeger. Don't chew out a respected reporter (who's certainly given you plenty of positive press) in front of a crowd just to show how tough you are, as it makes you look like a pathetic whiner. Sir.

By the way, Mr. Keith, "Moby Teeth" is not some sort of vulgarity or insult in the English language, as far as I know. It simply rhymes with your name. And if you honestly think the rest of the Rolling Stone readers hadn't deduced it was you before Cooper put the pieces of the puzzle together, I've got a flag I'd like to sell you.

And if I had a choice of listening to your music or reading the work of a journalist whose name may or may not rhyme with "Meter Super," I'll take Liter Hooper any day. In fact, I think Tweeter Scooper is a great music writer, and The Tennessean is lucky to have him.

Though I do commend you for adding the term "supersize French fries" to the journalistic lexicon. But shouldn't it really be "supersize Freedom fries"? Or are you one of them?

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