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CMA Awards lifts ban on asking country musicians about guns and politics

CMA Awards lifts ban on asking country musicians about guns and politics

Brad Paisley (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Brad Paisley (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

After warning media outlets to keep on the sunny side with coverage of next week’s CMA Awards show, threatening those who didn’t comply with a risk of being ejected, the Country Music Assn. has withdrawn its heavily restrictive media guidelines.

Several country artists including Brad Paisley, Maren Morris and Margo Price quickly registered their opposition to the CMA’s edict that reporters avoid bringing up the Las Vegas mass shooting during a country concert, gun control or musicians’ political beliefs while interviewing those arriving for the ceremony in Nashville on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

“CMA apologizes for the recently distributed restrictions in the CMA Awards media guidelines, which have since been lifted,” the organization said in a statement issued Friday morning. “The sentiment was not to infringe and was created with the best of intentions to honor and celebrate country music.”

The original media guidelines threatened those covering the event that if they violated the policy, “your credential will be reviewed and potentially revoked via security escort.”

Early Friday, singer-songwriter and guitarist Paisley, who again will co-host the show with Carrie Underwood, tweeted, “I'm sure the CMA will do the right thing and rescind these ridiculous and unfair press guidelines. In 3...2....1.....”

A short time after the CMA’s announcement that it was rescinding the guidelines, he added, “Bravo CMA awards for doing the right thing & apologizing for this mistake. All are welcome, let's have a great show.”

Morris also tweeted on Friday. “Country music has always been about the truth,” she wrote. “Out of respect for the Las Vegas victims, let’s keep it that way.”

Outspoken country newcomer Price, who was named the emerging artist of the year in 2016 by the Americana Music Assn., posted this note to her Twitter followers: “And people wonder why I’m not invited.”

The CMA’s original instructions to media outlets 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,” the statement said. “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.”

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