Journalists working the red carpet or press room at this year’s Country Music Awards on November 8 will have to follow a few rules: don’t ask questions about guns, the Las Vegas shooting, or “political affiliations.”
If a reporter does ask these questions, their credentials will be revoked by a security escort, Rolling Stone reports. The rules were included on a set of guidelines released Thursday morning, which read:
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.
After the Las Vegas shooting, which occurred during a country music festival, the debate over gun-control reached a music community that has been traditionally pro-gun. Caleb Keeter, a guitarist for the Josh Abbott Band, notably posted a statement to Twitter announcing that he was for gun-control now, even though he had been “a proponent of the 2nd amendment [his] entire life.” Country artist Margo Price tweeted after the shooting: “We need stricter gun control, plain and simple.”
But while some artists, like Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw, offered “prayers” and heartbreak to Las Vegas, there was little-to-no talk of gun control for many of them. “The issue as a country artist is you feel like if you say something wrong, your audience is going to turn on you,” Bobby Bones, a syndicated country morning radio host, told the Washington Post in a recent story about country music reckoning with gun control. “Their publicists have all said, ‘Don’t talk about it. Just don’t talk about it.’” But whether it’s their publicists or the artists themselves asking for a ban on the questions, CMA’s guidelines seem to indicate that the topic is, unfortunately, staying off-limits in country music for now.
Update, 11:30 a.m.: Brad Paisley tweeted against the CMA’s press guidelines (which was also re-tweeted by fellow country star Maren Morris.)
Update, 1:47 p.m.: The Washington Post reports that the CMA have lifted the restrictions on these topics for reporters and apologized. “The sentiment was not to infringe and was created with the best of intentions to honor and celebrate Country Music,” the CMA told the newspaper.