Somehow, the most controversial aspect of last week's Country Music Association Awards had nothing to do with politics.
During the trophy ceremony on Wednesday at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, many viewers suspected that country legend Garth Brooks was lip-syncing as he performed his latest single, "Ask Me How I Know." At one point, he held the microphone away from his face and his vocal track kept going.
After the show, Brooks didn't make any excuses. He explained to reporters that with a run of 12 concerts in 10 days, his voice was shot. "We decided to lip-sync it because my voice was just not there, and we wanted to represent country music the best we can," he said.
Some people understood - while others thought that was a pretty lame move, especially considering Brooks was awarded entertainer of the year, the most prestigious prize of the night. As viewers debated his decision to lip-sync, Brooks's fellow country singers started to weigh in.
"I keep a lot of my opinions to myself and respect anyone making music but as a person who tries to put on the best and most honest show I can night after night . . . this truly offends me," singer-songwriter Anderson East tweeted. "I was told country music is three chords and the truth."
Things escalated further when Miranda Lambert, one of the genre's biggest stars who has been dating East for two years, commented on East's Instagram page, where he posted a image of his tweet. "High Five on this babe," she wrote. "If you can't sing then don't. It's better to be honest than to pretend. I think it's bull s-. My favorite performances in the show were live live. The truth."
As if that wasn't enough drama, Lambert's ex-husband, "The Voice" star Blake Shelton, jumped into the mix to defend Brooks, tweeting "Hey @garthbrooks. . . I still love you. #hero#respect"
Then country star Randy Travis's Twitter account weighed in on the controversy, posting two messages in support of the singer. One posted Sunday night seemed to take a jab at East and Lambert with the "our family in music" comment: "We love ya @garthbrooks#iconhttps" and "@garthbrooks A friend, a man, an artist who gives ALL, always! Our family in music should be the 1st to understand-after you walk in our shoes, get back with us! -RT"
CMA viewers are the type to take lip-syncing quite seriously, considering country music is supposed to be the most authentic format. Rascal Flatts got similar backlash at the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards when lead singer Gary LeVox lost his voice, and the trio decided to perform anyway. The lip-syncing was obvious, and ironic considering the same show made fun of Britney Spears for not singing live.
But as the debate continues, Brooks appears unfazed. He will return to the Bridgestone Arena in December on his concert tour. Monday morning, he added a sixth date at the arena. The first five shows sold out.
Sean Hannity's fans call for Keurig boycott after coffeemaker company pulls ads from his show
Four companies, including the coffeemaker company Keurig, said they will not be advertising on Sean Hannity's Fox News show following a wave of criticism over the conservative host's coverage of sexual misconduct allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.
In protest, Hannity fans are calling for a boycott of Keurig products and the smashing of Keurig coffee pod machines. The hashtags #BoycottKeurig and #IStandWithHannity quickly emerged on Twitter.
In addition to Keurig, other advertisers confirmed on Twitter over the weekend that they will not be running TV ads on the "Hannity" show: Eloquii, a plus-size women's clothing company; 23 and Me, a DNA genetic testing company; and Nature's Bounty, a vitamin manufacturer.
Although sponsors did not explain the reasoning behind the decision to stop advertising on the show, they tweeted the announcements after critics bashed Hannity for appearing to defend Moore and question the authenticity of accusations made against him.
Keurig confirmed the move Sunday in response to a tweet from Angelo Carusone, president of left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters. He had asked the company to reconsider its sponsorship of Hannity's show.
"He defends child molester Roy Moore and attacks women who speak out against sexual harassment," Carusone tweeted.
In response, Keurig thanked Carusone for raising the issue and said: "We worked with our media partner and FOX news to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show."
Realtor.com tweeted Saturday: "While we continually strategize on where we advertise on and offline, we are not currently, and will not be running TV ads on Hannity." But the tweet was removed by early Monday. The company now says it will continue its advertising.
"Angelo, thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention. We worked with our media partner and FOX news to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show.
- Keurig (@Keurig) November 11, 2017"
"We've received inquiries RE: advertising on Hannity. We are not running TV advertising on Hannity. We continue to closely evaluate where we advertise.
- 23andMe (@23andMe) November 10, 2017"
"Hi there! We appreciate your feedback. We can confirm that we have blocked Hannity from our advertising list. If we can help with anything else, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.
- ELOQUII (@ELOQUII) November 10, 2017"
"We can confirm that we do not have advertisements running on this program.
- Nature's Bounty (@NaturesBounty) November 10, 2017"
Moore was elected chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court in 2000 and again in 2012. Both times he was dismissed or suspended for ignoring court orders. In one case, he refused to remove a 5,280-pound granite Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the judicial building. In the other case, he instructed probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, The Washington Post published a story about Leigh Corfman, who said Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in Alabama. She told The Post that Moore took her to his house and touched her sexually. Three other women interviewed by The Post said Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s.
Following the report, Hannity came under fire for appearing to agree with a producer on his show who suggested the encounters were "consensual."
Speaking on his radio show Thursday to executive producer Lynda McLaughlin, Hannity asked how one could "possibly tell, know the truth."
"He was apparently, like, 32, and he dated - one girl was 18, one girl was 17. They never said he did - there was no sexual - there was kissing involved, and then they're saying this one encounter with a 14-year-old . . ."
"And it was consensual," McLaughlin interjected.
"And consensual, that's true," Hannity responded. "And there's - I just - I don't know how you find out the truth."
Critics said Hannity had implied that a 14-year-old could give consent to sexual contact. But Hannity later apologized on Twitter, saying he "misspoke" and was "not totally clear" in the exchange. He said in his Thursday night broadcast that if the accusations are true, Moore should step down from the Senate race. He said the allegations, if proven true, are "beyond disgusting, beyond shameful."
But he went on to say that "every single person in this country deserves the presumption of innocence."
"With the allegations against Judge Moore, none of us knows the truth of what happened 38 years ago," he said. "The only people that would know that are the people involved in this incident."
Speaking on Hannity's radio show Friday, Moore declined to rule out that he may have dated girls in their late teens when he was in his 30s, although he said he did not remember any such encounters and described such behavior as inappropriate.
"If I did, I'm not going to dispute these things, but I don't remember anything like that," Moore said when asked whether he had dated 17- or 18-year-old girls at the time.
In the same interview, Moore denied the allegation that he had initiated sexual encounters with Corfman when she was 14. "I don't know Ms. Corfman from anybody," he said. "The allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false."
Over the weekend, Hannity fans posted videos destroying their Keurig coffee machines and encouraging others to do the same. One smashed a Keurig coffeemaker with a golf club, another pounded one with a hammer, and another dropped a Keurig from a second-story balcony, watching it shatter on the cement below while saying, "Hope you're happy, Keurig."
Hannity shared the videos and commended his "deplorable friends."
"Thank you and Game on!" he tweeted Sunday.
One coffee company, Black Rifle Coffee, appeared to reap the benefits of the boycott, as Hannity and his fans directed followers to purchase its coffee instead of Keurig's K-cups.
Others supported the move by Keurig, and some mocked Hannity supporters for throwing out costly machines they had already purchased.
"If you ever want to have us on, say the word! We have a million and 1 great stories just like Wali's here
- Black Rifle Coffee (@blckriflecoffee) November 13, 2017"
"@Keurig I had no idea you were so political. I thought you just made coffee makers. Why won't you support @seanhannity and others who care about America? I'm going to get ride of my keurig and find a different coffee maker. #BoycottKeurig
- David Reeb (@DavidReeb) November 13, 2017"
"Yes of course. Frankly accusations from 40 yrs ago. Guilty. Where's the justice? Innocent until proven guilty please! All the Clinton's crap & this is justice? No! Hell no!#IStandWithHannity#BoycottKeurig
- Deplorable Lori T (@ltucker8044) November 13, 2017"
"Thank you, @Keurig, for doing the right thing and pulling your ads from Hannity's show.
Just in time for Christmas!
- Holly O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) November 11, 2017"
This is not the first time Media Matters has pressed companies to pull advertising from Hannity's Fox News show. In May, the liberal media site published a list of Hannity's sponsors, a move many interpreted as a call to cut ties with the show, after he came under fire for promoting a conspiratorial account of the killing of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
Hannity had propagated a widely discredited theory that Rich was shot and killed because he had supplied DNC emails to WikiLeaks. District of Columbia police say Rich died in a botched robbery near his home in Washington last year. The automotive classified site Cars.com and several other companies subsequently pulled advertising from Hannity's show.
Previous boycotts of Fox News shows have proved devastating to hosts: Dozens of companies pulled their ads from Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox News after the New York Times revealed in April that Fox and O'Reilly had agreed to a series of secret settlements over harassment allegations.
The ads were rescheduled to other Fox broadcasts. But the sponsors seemed unlikely to return to "The O'Reilly Factor," the family of Rupert Murdoch, which controls Fox and 21st Century Fox, concluded. The Murdochs decided that if new accusations emerged, the ongoing publicity would make O'Reilly "untenable in advertisers' eyes," The Post's Paul Farhi reported. Fox News swiftly ended its association with O'Reilly three weeks after the sexual harassment claims against him were revealed.
"In the end, even though O'Reilly's audience remained loyal, there was no assurance that sponsors would be," Farhi wrote.