While the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time on Wednesday (13 January), Trump was reportedly presenting National Medal of the Arts awards to country performers Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs.
A representative for Skaggs confirmed that though the “Heartbroke” singer received the medal in person, he was supposed to receive it last year but the presentation was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skaggs had voiced support for Trump during the 2016 election. A representative for Keith declined to comment.
Keith performed at Trump’s 2017 inauguration, drawing criticism. As Rolling Stone points out, however, the “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” singer is technically a former Democrat who does not affiliate himself with either party, as he explained to the Chicago Tribune in 2016.
Even so, Keith caught extensive criticism on Twitter for accepting the award on the day of the impeachment vote, particularly from Grammy-nominated country singer Margo Price, who wrote, “This goes without saying but saying, but f**k Toby Keith.”
this goes without saying but saying but fuck Toby Keith
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) January 14, 2021
Some angry social media users also resurfaced memories of Keith's 2000s feud with embattled country trio The Dixie Chicks, calling out how Keith used to display doctored images of singer Natalie Maines and then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein at his concerts. (Maines had criticised Keith, dubbing his song ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)’ as “ignorant”.) Keith later apologised, admitting to CMT that he was "embarrassed about the way I let myself get sucked into all of that".
I have strongly disliked Toby Keith for a long time mainly for doing all he could to destroy the career of the Dixie chicks when all they said was they were ashamed to be from the same state as George W. Bush. Toby is gone. The Chicks are back❣️
— ⭐️ColorsOfTheWind⭐️ (@ColorsOfTheWi13) January 14, 2021
The National Medal of the Arts medal typically is presented to about a dozen people per year and represents a number of creative mediums, including music, visual arts, filmmaking, acting, theatre, dance, and philosophy.
Previously, Trump handed out four medals in 2019 (he did not hand out any during the first two years of his presidency). They went to actor John Voight, who is an outspoken Trump supporter, singer Alison Krauss, arts patron Sharon Percy Rockefeller, and the musicians of the US military.