The CMA Awards Tried to Keep the Media From Talking About the Las Vegas Shooting

After initially issuing guidelines instructing journalists “to refrain from focusing your coverage…on the Las Vegas tragedy, gun rights, political affiliations or topics of the like,” the Country Music Association has apologized and lifted the original media guidelines regarding this year’s CMA Awards ceremony, according to NBC’s Nashville affiliate, WSMV

This year’s ceremony will take place Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the wake of one of the most devastating tragedies the genre, the music industry and the nation as a whole has ever endured: the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The horrific event is the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, costing 58 people their lives and injuring around 500 others, according to CNN

The shooting has had an immense impact on country music, since it happened at a country music festival, so why did the Country Music Association threaten to revoke press credentials of journalists who asked artists about the tragedy at this year’s award ceremony? According to the association, they wanted the night to be a celebration of country music and its artists. If journalists did not follow these instructions, they would risk a security escort out.

Soon after the media guidelines were released, the association faced criticism, including from co-host Brad Paisley.

It makes sense to show sensitivity to the artists affected by the tragedy; however, to restrict all coverage seems extreme. This tragedy has brought country music to the forefront of a continuing political debate on gun control, and limiting coverage at one event won’t make that go away. 

Paisley told Rolling Stone in an interview that the ceremony is a night to celebrate the achievements of their genre, but the shooting needs to be addressed in the right way to do the victims justice. "We're not going to ignore it, but we're not going to also dwell on that," he said. "We have to make sure we honor those we've lost, but we also [have to] celebrate this music, which lives on, and do a good job having the heart we need to have on that night. And also the theme of the show this year is very much about unity and coming together as a format."

After the Country Music Association lifted the guidelines and apologized, Paisley tweeted, "Bravo CMA awards for doing the right thing & apologizing for this mistake. All are welcome, let's have a great show."