WASHINGTON -- President Obama attended the “Christmas in Washington” concert Sunday “as is tradition,” the White House said, despite recently unearthed video showing one of the scheduled performers - “Gangnam Style” rapper Psy - engaging in anti-American protests eight years ago.
The South Korean entertainer issued an apology Friday for the “inflammatory and inappropriate language” he said he used in a rap as “part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two Korean schoolgirls that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time.”
The controversy didn’t affect Mr. Obama’s attendance as the president traditionally attends this charity event, which is in it’s 31st year and benefits the Children’s National Medical Center.
The dust-up with Psy is not the first controversy Mr. Obama has faced with musicians.
Last year, conservatives, led by the likes of Sarah Palin, voiced strong objections to the White House’s invitation to host the rapper Common as part of a poetry event. Citing a 2007 YouTube video of the performer saying, “tell the law, my Uzi weighs a ton” as well as “Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push no button,” the Drudge Report characterized Common’s visit in the headline: “First Lady to host rapper who talks of killing cops, burning Bush.”
Psy apologizes for anti-American performances
Conservatives upset over rapper Common’s White House invite
And in 2009, Mr. Obama was the catalyst for a tiff that would last well into his first term. After Kanye West notoriously stole the microphone from Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, the president weighed in that he thought the rapper was a “jackass” - an opinion he reiterated in an interview more than two years later. Last April, Hollywood bloggers were licking their chops over the “feud” when West did not accompany girlfriend Kim Kardashian to the White House Correspondents Dinner in D.C.
Also earlier this year, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh was up in arms over a show by Cee Lo Green at an Atlanta, Ga., fundraiser for Mr. Obama. Opening for the president, the singer performed his hit song, “F*** You,” choosing not only to abstain from the censored version, “Forget You,” but to also dramatize his lyrics with a few signs of the middle finger.
Mr. Obama is in good company, though, when it comes to presidents hosting provocative artists. Legend has it that Crosby, Stills, & Nash, and, later, Willie Nelson, did drugs in the White House following respective performances for then-President Jimmy Carter. And, former President Richard Nixon opened his doors to Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
The “Christmas in Washington” event featuring Psy taped Sunday will air Dec. 21 on TNT.