The Country Music Awards, scheduled for next Wednesday, does not want you to think about guns, politics, or the largest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, which took place at country music festival. Nashville Scene, a local alt-weekly, reported yesterday that the CMA released guidelines for covering the award show that threaten journalists with removal for any mentions of the Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival. The guidelines stated:
In light of recent events, and out of respect for the artists directly or indirectly involved, please refrain from focusing your coverage of the CMA Awards Red Carpet and Backstage Media Center on the Las Vegas tragedy, gun rights, political affiliations or topics of the like. It’s vital, more so this year than in year’s past due to the sensitivities at hand, that the CMA Awards be a celebration of Country Music and the artists that make this genre so great. It’s an evening to honor the outstanding achievements in Country Music of the previous year and we want everyone to feel comfortable talking to press about this exciting time. If you are reported as straying from these guidelines, your credential will be reviewed and potentially revoked via security escort.
Last year’s guidelines, which can be found on the CMA website, included no mention or restrictions on the type of questions that one could ask, and certainly didn’t threaten removal.
Brad Paisley, who is gonna co-host the awards with Carrie Underwood, spoke to the Rolling Stone earlier this week and wasn’t afraid to touch on the subject: “We’re not going to ignore it, but we’re not going to also dwell on that. We have to make sure we honor those we’ve lost, but we also [have to] celebrate this music, which lives on, and do a good job having the heart we need to have on that night.”
Paisely also took to Twitter and said he believes the CMA won’t actually uphold the media guidelines:
TrackRecord reached out to CMA for comment and will update if we hear back. Country music already holds a complicated relationship with the National Rifle Association and gun culture, so this decision shows the CMAs has little desire to grapple with the conflict. Awards shows can offer platforms for people to express issues that are important to them, and the Country Music Awards’ decision here is an attempt to ignore a tragedy that directly struck its community.
Update (11/3/2017, 1:31pm) All Access Music Group reported that the Country Music Awards removed its previous media guidelines that attempted to restrict discussion of the Las Vegas shooting. The CMA’s statement reads:
“CMA apologizes for the recently distributed restrictions in the CMA AWARDS media guidelines, which have since been lifted. The sentiment was not to infringe and was created with the best of intentions to honor and celebrate Country music.”