The foul-mouthed, hard-nosed drill instructor made famous by Stanley Kubrick’s classic war film “Full Metal Jacket” ruffled some feathers early last month for commenting at a charity event that President Barack Obama wants “to bring this country to its knees” and institute “socialism.”
His proposed solution: “Rise up” and “stop this administration” from “destroying this country.”
Now, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman — the character which has carried the career of R. Lee Ermey — is doing the unthinkable: apologizing.
“I regret that I delivered a monologue that was inappropriately critical of the President,” he wrote on a special message posted to his official website. “I was trying to be entertaining and simply went too far in this instance.”
Ermey, who was in recent years a spokesman for the Geico insurance company, made his initial remarks on Dec. 10 at a special appearance on “Roe & Roeper’s Miracle on Indianapolis Blvd. Holiday Extravaganza,” promoting “Toys 4 Tots” in Chicago.
“Oorah! Can anybody hear me out there?” he began. “I would like to salute the United States Marine Corps. Since 1775 they have been defending this country and doing quite a nice job of it, I might add. We celebrated our 235th birthday last month… 235 years of protecting this nation and we’re gonna continue to do it forever.”
Ermey continued: “I gotta tell you folks, we’re having a big problem this year. The economy really sucks. Now I hate to point fingers at anybody, but the present administration probably had a lot to do with that. And the way I see it, they’re not gonna quit doing it until they bring their country to its knees — so I think we should all rise up and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country.
“They’re driving us into bankruptcy so they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. I’m sick-and-damn-tired of it and I know you are too. But I know the Marine Corps is gonna be here forever. This administration won’t. Semper fi. God bless you all.”
As Ermey walked off stage, one of the event’s hosts laughed and commented, “I’m so glad he has an opinion about things.”
“How do you really feel, Lee?” another asked.
“I’d been waitin’ for the Glenn Beck” to “come on Fox,” he said. “I need to have that.”
Less than a month on, Ermey was walking the comments back.
“I am mindful that my success as an entertainer relates in part to my experience in the Marine Corps, my devotion to its members, and the deep respect I have for members of all our Armed Forces,” he wrote on Jan. 3. “My comments should not be seen as reflecting on them or their views. I was just very disappointed in the amount of success that we were having raising toys and money for the underprivileged children this season. The poor economy has greatly hampered our efforts. My comments were misguided, and emotionally based, and for that I am truly sorry.”
A recent study by the University of Maryland found that extended exposure to Fox News makes voters more likely to believe patent falsehoods about American society and the actions of the administration.
The poll’s findings seem to sync with those of an NBC News survey (PDF) taken during the height of America’s health care reform debate, where Fox News viewers were found to be most likely to believe wildly inaccurate interpretations of the legislation.
The Republican television channel’s most-watched opinion host, conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck, often makes up outrageous falsehoods to scare viewers into supporting Republican causes.
The network has big plans to expand its brand into the future: According to anchor Chris Wallace, the 2012 Republican presidential primary elections will be “a production of Fox News,” not unlike the Fox network’s American Idol. Virtually all the leading GOP candidates are paid contributors for the network, and over 30 Fox News personalities have endorsed Republicans in the past.
The Obama administration, similarly, has called Fox News “a wing of the Republican party.”